Nightlights first full-length album isn’t a new concept, as creating a real soundtrack for an imaginary film has long been a thing in synthwave, yet their take on it feels like a breath of fresh air as their more upbeat sound is welcomed in a subgenre which tends to be much darker. Their music, as well as their art, work together in perfect harmony to help bring this proposed animated feature to life and overall feels like rediscovering a childhood favorite which will bring a smile to your face.
“II” is an appropriate title for Flash Cassette’s sophomore effort and follow-up to their self-titled debut as, much like a finely crafted sequel to an impressive movie, this release not only builds off the sound that they established on their first release but proceeds to masterfully supersede it in the process with tighter production, catchier hooks, funkier beats, and impressive vocal work.
This album begs to be listened from start to finish as each track smoothly transitions into the next.
In honor of #NationalPoetryDay, I wrote a poem for this review:
The calendar declares summer over,
and that might be true,
but the feeling of summer continues
inside both me and you.
Sirens sing their songs,
and bards tell their tales,
while Wyndsrfr recounts that lost summer
and all which it entails.
Like the waves of the ocean,
coalescing with the sand,
so do dream-like synths
and sultry vocals go hand-in-hand.
“Burning Summer” is lightning in a bottle,
a whole season captured in a song,
like memories that can be replayed
as you inevitably sing along.
This album contains ideal mood music for the Halloween season and is also quite the nostalgic throwback to similar ambient releases of the past which were meant to be played outside your window for any trick-or-treater passing by to maybe think twice about knocking on your door. On top of that, it’s the perfect showcase of Vampire Step-Dad’s incredibly talented ability to easily “change the channel” on his music and deliver something entirely different, and unexpected, but welcomed all the same.
The Warhorse is one of the few truly unique synth-infused acts out there so it’s hard to classify exactly what they are in turn. Unfortunately, as a consequence to that, they’re often left out of the conversation when it comes to talking about the synthwave scene and its numerous subgenres. However, The Warhorse is unapologetic in this regard and simply sneers at such conventions by just doing its own thing and that thing is to release such a genre-defying album like Chubs which simply rocks.
One of the absolute pleasures in following an artist ever since their debut is being able to watch and listen as they grow, perfecting their art along the way, thus hearing the subtle differences of improvement between releases. It might be cliche to say that the latest and greatest offering of any artist is their best yet but this album is proof of that as See Thomas Howl delivers the goods and then some; he’s truly come into his own.
Plus you can’t go wrong with GlitterWølf featured on vocals!
DRONN, the dungeon synth side project of the synthwave renaissance man known as Gregorio Franco, returns once more with their darkest and creepiest release yet entitled “Servants of Onu.” Ideal for listening alone in the middle of a cold autumn night or when huddled together in a group when delving deep into a dimly lit cavern while rolling twenty-sided dice, DRONN perfectly encapsulates the terrifying experience of the unknown like an unseen eldritch horror from beyond this mortal coil.
Every release by Nightlights is not unlike a bag of candy-coated synthwave that you can’t help but gobble up by the handful as their music is a dreamy mixture of chill pop and retro dance. Their most recent release, the titular “Time Shift EP,” is no different in this regard as its not only an enjoyable album all on its own but like many of the albums in Nightlights’ catalog it provides itself as a welcomed palate cleanser to the sometimes harsher tones of other more heavier synthwave releases.
Gregorio Franco continues to prove that they’re not only one of the hardest working producers around, what with the ability to produce top notch release after release in relatively quick succession, but they’re also one of the most versatile as each of their subsequent releases tops the one before in both production and stylistic variety. Clearly a fan of the Mega Man X series of video games, Gregorio Franco furthers that masterwork tradition in a second volume of covers which simply rock, man.