I’m always a bit surprised once the selection of these lists of brand new synth tracks is complete for you each month. Some of these artists have been around for years, and others are relatively new, but one thing is for certain: everyone on this list is talented whether they have the most original arrangements or if they let their influences shine in their exploration of sounds. Enjoy the November edition of the top synth songs of the month! It’s time to give your speakers a workout.
1. Cavego - Hafjell
Rooted in the Nu Disco movement and following in the footsteps of artists like Lindstrom, Prins Thomas, and Todd Terje. Out now on Eskimo, Cavego brings us the Gudbrandsdalen EP, a six-track beauty that is filled with vintage synth, recorded in the family’s remote cabin in Norway. Hefjell is named after the location of the giant slalom events in the 1984 Winter Olympics and invokes the inspection of the piste by the skier prior to launching him or herself into the competition.
2. Otha - I’m On Top
“I dance like a queen, and my dress is a dream. Oh look at me now, I’m not coming down.” Otha has done it again. Following up her single “One of the Girls” from earlier this year, “I’m On Top” continues the momentum with this song that completely envelops you into the synth and sets you into a dancefloor grandeur that’s hard to top. What attracts me most to this track how ambitious it is both lyrically and musically while holding a nonchalant, monotone attitude.
3. Magdalena Bay - Ghost
Synthpop for pop lovers. A pop song for synth lovers. The synths are laid thick in this track, with some really unique, glitchy textures and a subdued string that hangs out in the background of the left channel. The chords are powerful and pull you in, although there are times when they pull you in so well, it makes the vocal difficult to focus on. Perhaps that's the point if she’s feeling like a ghost. Unable to be seen, it's the other elements around her that drown her out.
4. 44 Ardent - Fading 22
The arrangement of this song really catches my ear, and it's the traditional percussion fan in me that wants to hear this acoustically with an ensemble using vibraphone, xylophone, and auxiliary percussion elements. The vocal treatment provides a gorgeous effect, and while I’d prefer just a bit more clarity, it gives nostalgia for vocal effects that attract with similar effect. With a 2:43 running time, I do wish the song and its themes were explored further in an extended version.
5. Keep Shelly in Athens - Bendable
Keep Shelly in Athens remains such a pleasant project to listen to because the music is familiar, reminiscent of the sounds Fleetwood Mac used to make but is produced with a modern clarity and a sensibility that keeps me satisfied. In “Bendable,” the Greek duo really brings their dreams to the forefront, where Jessica Bell sings with such confidence and grace, and the swirling synths make you feel as if the world is as incredible, and less regrettable, as the lyrics imply.
6. Allie X - Girl of the Year
There are a lot of similarities between the vocal stylings Allie brings us in the chorus of “Girl of the Year” and those of Lauren Mayberry. It’s hard not to mimic success, and with all the praise Chvrches has seen over the years, why not borrow? Those similarities aside, Allie sings beautifully, projecting her voice in a way not everyone can. The backing music has catchy, yet extremely familiar sounding synth work and structure, simply there to help Allie’s voice shine.
7. Poetically - Next Day
Released this month on an Electronic Gems compilation titled Milestone, Poetically greets us with some extremely bouncy, twinkling synthpop titled “Next Day.” Not necessarily an anthem on procrastination, it’s suggested that we can leave it until then. Speaking of putting things off, there is something about the song that remains unfinished, and that’s due to there being only one verse. I’d love to have this track expanded lyrically to fill in the blanks on the album release.
8. Reyna - Heartbeat
This is a love song that many of us can relate to. We’ve just come off the high of that summer relationship but it’s time to get back to the fiscal year and reality. It had to be broken off. But that doesn’t mean you can’t miss your love and wish they were with you, in fact, you can write some amazing 80s inspired pop songs on the theme. As such, Reyna brings us this gem in “Heartbeat” on the topic, with some fantastic synth textures and accentuated handclaps.
9. Le Matos - Complete Memory Recovery
Almost every time Le Matos comes out with a new track or one of their remixes, I am inspired. Their texture catalog and the synth sounds they use always identify as pure Le Matos to me. They’re not the only ones who use these sounds, either, so it's clear they also have their own unique style to the arrangement. While I still haven’t personally pinned down the recipe to the project’s secret sauce, every new song tends to be as satisfying as I hoped it would be.
10. De Lorra - Detachment
There is a ton of Com Truise influence in this new piece from De Lorra, with his most recent works being a hybrid between the styles of the aforementioned and Tycho. Don’t let the imitation turn you off, though. De Lorra’s music started as and has moved beyond the stereotypical instrumental synthwave so many producers keep blindly churning out. I love the fact that artists like him are inspired to dive in and experiment with new melodies and textures in this style.
11. Storme - Be My Drummer
There is a lot of Robyn influence going on in this latest work from Storme. Considering “Be My Drummer” is a song about a person you would like to be your rhythmic foundation, it’s also a song that could use a little more percussion accent to tie things together. The bridge tries, with grand slams on tom-toms and handclap accents, but also would benefit with tuned percussion and snare work. What we’re really here for is the synth work, which beautifully ties it all together.
12. Zero Call - Formatted Desire
With the formal release of Zero Call’s Fears and Dreams of Living Machines falling within my date window for the best tracks of November, I couldn’t help myself to include another track from the band for the second month in a row. I can’t get over how satisfying this band’s production is, between the forward motion of the percussion, the twinkling arpeggiated synth, along with dark, brooding bass tones and that jaw-dropping vocal effect. Out now on Jet Set Trash records.
13. Fear of Tigers - Kafka
Fear of Tigers dropped this absolute monster of a track on us back in May on his podcast with Velhinggo but has finally uploaded it for the rest of us to enjoy on his Soundcloud account. This has all the workings of a synth banger with long-term longevity. The track builds so beautifully with an undeniable powerful synth bassline, and the melodies have such a familiar and nostalgic feel about them, you’ll be humming this for the rest of the year. I certainly know I will be.
14. Karp - Devotion
I love the mysterious nature of this “Devotion” within the ethereal landscape that has been created for us by Karp. This is the kind of large echo chamber, gothic swirl anthem everyone would dream about back in the day. The synth work is based in trance but maintains its pop sensibility and structure. This is music for fans of ionalee and Karin Elisabeth Dreijer who also want some classic futurepop and early 00s vocal trance touch blended in for good measure.
15. Empathy Test - Incubation Song (The New Division Remix)
This wasn’t intentional but “Incubation Song” is the only remix featured on the list this month. This song just oozes with Eurythmics flavor. The New Division has really done a spectacular job taking an original track that makes you feel like you’re consuming the vast expanse of the ocean, taking you out of the water, and letting you sprint along the shoreline, becoming invigorated in the sunshine. Empathy Test is touring the UK with VNV Nation in January of 2019.
Now let's listen to all of this music together: