There have been a lot of synthwave releases recently. Here are five that stand out to me.
Yota – “The Vibe”
Earlier this month, the Sweden-born, France-livin’ Yota released the delectably catchy dance number “The Vibe” on NewRetroWave’s NRW Records. Her vocals and pulsating rhythms blend seamlessly with colorful synths and glimmering Barney Sumner-esque guitars. It’s a profoundly satisfying experience.
Michael Oakley – “Queen of Hearts”
Another notable NRW Records release this month is Canada-based Michael Oakley’s “Queen of Hearts.” Ollie Wride’s go-to producer for solo work brings us a big, transcendent pop cut with a slick sheen. With every release the Scotland-born Oakley infuses more modern production with his 1980s retro sensibilities. There’s a potency to this practice, because it keeps Oakley from falling into nostalgia traps. (Keep an ear out for a special guest appearance.)
NINA – “Synthian (Feat. LAU)”
England-based, German artist NINA has a new album coming out in June on Aztec Records. Until then, she’s unleashed its haunting and catchy title track. NINA is among the most talented singers and songwriters in the scene, and it’s great to hear her double-down on that, complementing it with some mid- to -late ’80s sonic influence courtesy of herself and her production team of Oscillian, Richard X, Ricky Wilde, and Till Wild. Pre-order the record, will ya?
LAU – “Stunning”
NINA’s partner in crime has a new solo project, releasing an inaugural, Brian Skeel-produced cut layered with ’80s synths that synthwave die-hards will love. This is one of those catchy synthwave numbers that has licensing potential written all over it. LAU’s vox and lyrics are poignant and delivered with a commanding force. I’m eager to hear what she has in store for us with her future work.
L’Avenue – “Sundown”
UK synthwaver L’Avenue’s Cherry Crush EP is a year old already, but a new video for instrumental cut “Sundown” reinvigorates the track for another summer. Not a lot happens in the video, but it’s not supposed to. It serves as a delicate flourish, meant to catalyze an even deeper sense of enchantment than the song alone already offers. L’Avenue is fairly new to the scene, manifesting a bouillabaisse of chillwave, sophisti-pop, and Mitch Murder vibes.
“Sundown” and its parent EP represent a snapshot of an artist learning his craft, and overall point toward a future built on promise. I’m very eager to experience what lies ahead — especially as L’Avenue becomes more comfortable with his own sounds.
(Synthwave.net is a section focusing on the synthwave/retrowave/outrun genre(s). Vehlinggo introduced it in May 2020 as a way to highlight the genre this site has helped grow since 2014, while allowing for the site’s shifting focus to evolve naturally. For more information, read the introduction post.)