This year we cut to the chase: here’s some synthpop from 2018 we recommend you spend a little time with. Enjoy the music, pansentients!
(album covers below = Spotify play buttons)
Cosmicity – Twice Daily
Winter blues? Cosmicity have the remedy: a healthy synthpop concept album with funky tunes, bouncy beats, and a wry sense of humor throughout. Take as directed 😉
- Fave tracks: Plenty, Moderate to Severe
Sarah Nixey – Night Walks
Salty tears from everyone’s favorite working Synthpop Sarah. Best thing she’s ever done I reckon: there’s lovely production here and some achingly good synth songs.
- Fave tracks: Journey, Dancing at the Edge of the World
Rue Oberkampf – Waveclash
Voilà Rue Oberkampf, here for some much needed post-fin de siècle minimal waviness. Ebbhead shades are pink-tinted here: Waveclash is cold wave punk-electronique, but there’s also a slight sense of optimism and self-awareness lurking in the depths of this short but solid album, thanks in no small part to the beguiling and fey French vocals.
- Fave tracks: Le Train, Congelation, Caméra
You Drive – You Drive
A clue in the title for sure, here’s this year’s Electric Youth/Drive soundtrack kind-of-record. Hopefully not just a one-off collab from Makeup + Vanity Set and Jasmin Kaset, as this is a gorgeous album that brings out the best of both drivers. It’s a relaxing, chilled album with some poignancy to the lyrics and a strong sense of direction. Add to your favorite destinations!
- Fave tracks: New, Cracked Place, Hold On
Fröst – Matters
I discovered Fröst via The Electricity Club: good call guys, I love this! The 60s-psych sound has always meshed well with synthpop-tronics, with artists like Jane Weaver and Amber Arcades being notably talented. Fröst joins the ranks, thanks in part to some Fujiya & Miyagi action. This album is seriously cool, it deftly mixes neo-psychedelica with synthpop, krautrock and a chemical beat to produce a solid 37-minute listen.
- Fave tracks: Scars on the Lining, Eternelle, Delta Antenna
Dream System 8 – We Sleep Again
The list of now-vintage instruments used to make this album is impressive, if that sort of thing’s your bag (hey, there’s a Casio VL-1!). For me it’s mostly just about how it sounds, and We Sleep Again is an album I’ve returned to often in 2018. Stuffed with Thermostatically chippy synthpop (plus a few excellent “slow ones”), this 12-track album delivers delightful electronic pop music with some real gems if you dream deep enough.
- Fave tracks: You Are, Color the Stars, Shine a Light, It’s All Happening
Vive La Fête – Destination Amour
Écouter et répéter! Belgium’s Vive La Fête are this year’s 2RAUMWOHNUNG: gifting us a fabulously fun synthpoppy album seeded with European style & panache, singalong songs (if you speak a bit of French!) and lots of replay value due to some outstanding tunes and quirky riffs. Tourterelle aka “the turtledove song” is especially sumptuous synthpop, mes amoureux 😉
- Fave tracks: Tourterelle, Destination amour (Monks Mix), Samedi soir
For Esmé – Righteous Woman
Alanis Morissette was a righteous woman, and For Esmé share that well of power and occasional rage. This is a serious album make no mistake (and it pays to listen to it in order), but it’s also rich in memorable electronic pop songs and infectious melodies. While CHVRCHES seem to have lost their way this year, Righteous Woman shows that synthpop can still carry a message (if you care to listen).
- Fave tracks: To Hate, Doubtmouth, Modern Love, Didn’t Ask
Confidence Man – Confident Music For Confident People
With three-out-of-three funky-as-flip songs released in the build up, I did wonder whether these cats could maintain the quality of their singles for a full album. I needn’t have worried: this record is absolutely fabulous!
Bouncy pop laced with humor and intercontinental beats, Confident Music For Confident People is slinky and sassy and the best album this year to put on at a party: everyone’ll love it, regardless of their electro-pop opinion. There’s nods to disco days of Primal Scream and Black Eyed Peas, maybe a touch of Bee Gees and the Jackson 5 (and hey: funky drummer!) but forget the past: this is exemplary modern pop music & the record I’ve danced about the most to all year 🙂
- Fave tracks: pretty much all of them!
Pansentient League’s album of the year:
Reed & Caroline – Hello Science
When Freezepop did a song about a Science Genius Girl, I’d hoped they’d go on to create some kind of science-based concept album with soothing authoritative vocals and quirky synthpop DNA. They never did, but hello Reed & Caroline!
Hello Science is an intelligently designed album that bursts with ear-worms for the synthpop-discerning (hu)man. Featuring science & technology-themed songs throughout, they’re all fundamentally intriguing and a rather good listen to boot. A lot of thought and care has clearly gone into this record: it’s wonderfully crafted and deceptively evocative when you give it a proper listen end-to-end. I love how Hello Science isn’t all high-school test-tube love songs but muses on topical topics like dark matter, entropy and the Goldilocks zone.
Synthpopically, Hello Science is polished pop and full of imprintable hooks. So many times this year a song from this album would jump into my head: a line or a phrase, an especially fine-formed musical bit or twiddly synth flourish. Top marks, this is why Hello Science is Pansentient League’s album of the year!
- Fave tracks: Another Solar System, Buoyancy, Computers, Internet of Things
Top 5 Synthpop Songs of 2018
Jump to The Electricity Club (original version) for my Top 5 Synthpop Songs of 2018…
Pansentient New Synthpop 2018
All the above artists are featured on our Spotify playlist:
Artists Discovered On this playlist:
AEX, AIVIS, Alienare, And the Echo, Apsurde, Battery Operated Orchestra, Blipblop, Coma Alliance, Ctrl, Dream System 8, Electronikboy, Electronomy Department, Eloquent, Elyxr, Flux Fin, For Esme, Form, Foxtrap, Fragrance, Happiness Project, Humble Braggers, Ideomotor, In Good Faith, Johan Baeckstrom, John Cyrus, Kennelklubben, Kodacrome, Kurs Valut, The Lipz, Logic & Olivia, ManMindMachine, Mari Dangerfield, Matthias, Metroland, Milan, Mind Cinema, The Modern, Opera, Park Fires, Perpacity, The Planets Won’t Let You Sleep Tonight, Poupee, Radioaktivists, Ratmilk, Red Sleeping Beauty, Reed & Caroline, Rocococo, Rodney Cromwell, Rue Oberkampf, Sarah Nixey, Sector One, Sine City, Sinestar, Sister Electra, Solsun, Space March, Stolen, Tiny Magnetic Pets, Trans Atlantic Crush, Tremors, Unknown Land, VIGGO, Vision Paname, Watching Spaceships, We Are Temporary, Zuma.
Thanks for listening!
See y’all next year,
aka Afront of the Pansentient League.