Madeline Goldstein’s use of saturated synth tones and her own wide-ranging, sultry vocals on “Seed of Doubt” is completely engulfing in a way you’d want to hear more often in music in the darkwave and synth pop spectrum. Fans of Patriarchy (the song has the same engineer, Matia Samovich, as Patriarchy’s excellent 2022 album The Unself) will find much to like in the perfect fusion of futuristic disco and Gary Numan-esque soundscapes. It has a similar emotional resonance as Tor Lundvall’s A Strangeness in Motion record in that it taps into a retro pop sound but sounds so modern in its dance beat sequencing it has as much in common with Goldfrapp as it does something in the realm of electronic Goth. With lyrics seemingly about conflicted relationships, desire and identity, “Seed of Doubt” is immediately compelling and riveting from its opening moments until the end. Goldstein is the front person for Portland, Oregon’s long-running synth punk band Fringe Class. After relocating to Los Angeles in 2019, Goldstein launched her solo project which has continued in an experimental vein but leaning more toward a pop sensibility that should be in the wheelhouse of anyone into the ways in which Electric Youth’s music synced so perfectly with the mood and atmosphere of Come True. Listen to “Seed of Doubt” on Spotify and follow Goldstein at the links below.
Australian electronic pop Syzygy was formed in 2019 in Melbourne when former Spotting members Rebecca Maher and Gus Kenny started to explore a more pure electronic pop sound. Going to the roots of that style of music Maher and Kenny have been deep into the aesthetics of 80s synth pop but with a more modern production style. And yet the music video for the single “Justice or Mercy” and its fantastic use of letters as pixels forming Maher’s image dancing really touches on memories of Yaz videos, the music of Human League and certainly Phil Oakey’s collaboration with Giorgio Moroder on the title song for 1984 science fiction film Electric Dreams, “Together in Electric Dreams,” and add in a touch of early Depeche Mode. The arrangements bring to mind Ladytron’s 604 album and the way the bass line is accented with the percussion. All comparisons and dissection of possible influence aside Maher’s vocals shine through with an emotional power and her minor chord shifts here and there truly help to set the track apart from a lot of other music in a similar style. They lyrics also explore a nuanced take on relationships and the folly of hoping someone will change even given consequences if they don’t feel they’ve done anything wrong. The synth melodies intertwine with the percussion and rhythm after the manner of modern electroclash and fans of Boy Harsher and Electric Youth may find this track what they’re looking for to branch out into new music. Watch the video for “Justice or Mercy” on YouTube and follow Syzygy at the links below. Look for the album Justice or Mercy due out later in 2022.
The slowly increased volume that introduces us to Alexandra John’s “Demons” works well in the context of the music video for the song. The way the song adds and removes layers to give it an emotional dynamic like an intensity of feeling and a moment of clarity as reflected in the lyrics about someone struggling with inner demons and maybe someone who is trying to push push our narrator further into the dark side she’s trying to push beyond. The lush synth melodies driven by lightly distorted electronic bass and minimal percussion bring to the song a touch of classic early chillwave but with a cinematic feel that is more akin to a more upbeat side of Electric Youth. The music video directed and edited by Jake Hays with cinematography by David Gordon has a beautifully dark horror movie aesthetic that fans of Boy Harsher’s treatments on TheRunner or Anthony Scott Burns’ visual moods on Come True will appreciate as those films are a fine modern examples of the fusions of music and cinema that don’t shy away from extensive use of visual as well as thematic darkness. Watch the video for “Demons” on YouTube and follow twins Liza Cain and Weston Cain as Alexandra John at the links below.
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