The top synth songs of October are here, and what a list it is! It always seems like such a daunting task paring these tracks down for you, but by now you should expect only the best. Indie Discotheque has once again excelled at this, from new music from Robyn, Vok, Kim Petras, to ear-opening production from Zero Call, here are fifteen of the best synth-heavy tracks we could find for your ears.
1. Robyn - Missing U
It’s so great to have new music from Robyn. It’s really personal music lyrically, and musically we are awash in some well produced, satisfying synth work. We are introduced to the song with some twinkling sounds that wash over us before the foundation sets in with warm, thick chords. Robyn’s voice is always on point and really pulls at your heartstrings in this track. It’s my favorite from her new album Honey, as reviewed here at Magnetic upon release.
2. Vok - Night and Day
“Night and Day” is a synthpop track that immediately grabs your attention. Premiered here at Magnetic, the synth stabs and bass work really envelops you into the track. It’s a song for those on the dance floor, exploring the thoughts of those whose want and passion extend beyond rational reason. This is a possessive song, with lyrics that declare, “it’s just a matter of time, you will be mine.”
3. Kim Petras - Close Your Eyes
Honestly, I could just play the introductory “close your eyes” on repeat, over and over again, on a surround sound system while I lay on the floor in the middle of it. The percussion in this song is persistent and commanding, with synth work that grabs you and pins you down. Kim Petras is in control here, you are at her whim, you are hers. She will devour you and there is nothing you can do about it. Don’t fight it, just close your eyes.
4. Wice - Start the War
Let the war begin. The chords that greet us are progressive and surround us with sounds of the impending attack. The synth army builds, and then it arrives. We’re assaulted with an onslaught of chords and electro blasts, deep and grinding, it's aggressive and commanding. Wice really brings us a unique blend here, with driving percussion and a classic electro-synthwave blend, but the army retreats before I’m ready for it to go. I’d love to get an extended version.
5. Plum - Out of Love
Gorgeous voice washes over us right away, such an ethereal atmosphere, a glowing cavern of beautiful chords and subdued percussive textures. While we feel warmth initially, that cavern really starts taking its place as we listen. Lyrically, an song about falling out of love, not being there for each other, brings a chill to the track, swirling, contrasting sounds and themes that bring a complexity to what otherwise sounds so innocent.
6. Luces - Mr. Phil
I have to introduce this track by mentioning what a fan I am of Plastic Plates’ work. This is a project between him and Amtrac, and while its generally more of a laid-back, chill project (part of the Openers imprint), “Mr. Phil” really shines with Plastic Plates influence, with a droning, spacy rise and fall of harmonics with twinkling textures in the foreground, and the synth bounce that defines him, making the tracks he touches so distinctive.
7. Geotic - Maglev
The synth work is beautiful on this track, absolutely, but what really defines this song is the string work. It’s been some time since I’ve heard such a soul-touching piece of synth and strings, ties together so well it sounds completely natural. The title, “Maglev,” is fitting, with momentous percussion driving us along at speed, but the melodic synth is so lighthearted and bouncy, there is no friction happening here.
8. Dream Fiend - Clarity feat. Mecha Maiko
Such an upbeat synthpop song, and an impressive feature with Mecha Maiko. “Clarity” is right, in multiple respects. It’s not only the lyrical theme, but the production value in this track is tops. This is one of those songs you’ll want to listen to on repeat. Each sound is audible and clear, with overlapping synth sounds all complimenting each other so well. The percussion is crisp and the guitar work blends beautifully.
9. Kidburn - What It Takes
He seems like an artist that is still trying to work out what his final direction will be, but perhaps Kidburn is just that good at diversifying his exploration of synth music. This is an artist that is pumping out the songs. “What It Takes” is a standout of his recent work, much of which sounds as if it was pulled directly from an 80s pop music soundtrack. The vocal and guitar work, in particular, are exceptional and blend so well with the chord structures presented.
10. Zero Call - Prime Unit
“Prime Unit” was chosen for the list before the album dropped, and now that it has, I urge you to listen to the whole freakin’ thing. Honest to all, this is one of the standout synth albums of the year. Not just because I love dark synth work, robotized vocals, against the wall arpeggiations in stereo, and the like, but really, I am just jaw-dropped by the songwriting and the production by Zero Call on this whole collection.
11. Gryff - Jessie
If Jessie was the saxophone player, I’d want her to come home, too. This track is dripping with confident, full-throated sax work, played with such clarity it truly makes a statement. Paired wonderfully with classic percussion and arpeggiated synth work, it’s a sing-along track that will have you wanting to sing for Jessie over and over. We can’t get enough of this, so why don’t you come back home, Jessie?
12. Radikal Rat - Friends with Benefits feat. Kes Kross
Radikal Rat has found a nice hybrid of modern R&B sensibility and a retro synth soundtrack. It’s a wonderful blend of historic chord structures and sounds applied to modern songwriting. The vocals at times almost seem out of place, with Kes Kross a bit over passionate at times in a song about being “Friends with Benefits,” but as soon as you think that perhaps this isn’t working, the song manages to pull itself back into place.
13. Tommi Waring - Dangerous
This is synthpop for the dance floor, definitely a dark room mood with lyrics warning about dangers inherent in some relationships, protecting yourself or others from the secrets of the past. Tommi’s voice is so smooth, contrasting the warning in his vocal, but the synth is thick and brooding, acting as if the sound itself is the things that weigh on you. The drum fills persistent throughout the song keep you alert, almost paranoid for that is to come.
14. After l’Amour - Fiasco Hotel
Aside from my continuing and persistent attraction to the word fiasco, it’s the continuing and persistent drone of the synth that remains the steady force throughout this song that has my attention. I am completely drawn into this track, with its minimal guitar textures and French-language vocal that I don’t understand at all. But for me, that’s part of the mystery. What truly is happening at the “Fiasco Hotel?”
15. Cosmicity - Let’s Get Infected
Infection is one of those words thrown around in the music industry that I typically try to avoid, because how many times have we read about infectious this and infectious that? But catchwords aside, Cosmicity, an artist who I consider part of the great second wave of synthpop in the 90s, really gets into my blood with his new album, “Twice Daily.” The synth work on this track, in particular, truly has me infected.