I’m not sure what the weather’s doing wherever you happen to be reading this from, but here in the south west of England it is bleak. Cold, windy, raining, depressing; so thank fuck for John Mood’s new album The Great Design and its soft warmth and positive vibes to lift all our spirits. Moods stays true to his MO of soft rock, synthpop, 80s stylings throughout, with the thoughtful, melancholic Awfully Close is a particularly evocative instrumental delight.
As has already been established, I’m a sucker for an 80s synth alongside lyrics with even the merest hint of unrequited yearning. And if it could conceivably soundtrack a film where someone tears a beaten up old car across an impressive vista, tears streaming down their cheeks, then all the better. Oh, and: the band name should preferably be something enigmatic, possibly with a number replacing one of the letters. Tick, tick, tick.
One of the many things I love about Molly Nilsson’s music is how completely effortless it seems. Her DIY aesthetic makes it both approachable and relatable, almost as if we could all be banging out rich, emotional tunes if we just erased screentime from our lives and actually put our minds to it, as far-fetched a fantasy as that may be. Avoid Heaven from her new LP Extreme – which came out last week on Night School Records – sees Nilsson at the peak of her powers, tossing out lines like “Sometimes you just feel so powerless / And that’s the way the powerful like it I guess” over a soaring synth line, drums tripping over themselves in an effort to keep up with the propulsive majesty of it all.
After a strong run of singles over the past few month, Wildhart’s latest album His Arrows Won’t Hit Us Now arrived last week, and although I haven’t had a chance to spend a decent amount of time with it yet on the first couple of listens it’s hit me very nicely in the feels indeed. I’ve written here before about how much I love their 2016 LP Shine, and after a period of worrying silence and a line-up change, it’s brilliant to have them back in all their hushed, synthy glory. Like a lot of their music, I’ve Been Waiting goes in hard on nostalgic yearning, a patient, bubbling lead synth line joined by beautifully echoing trumpets as it moves its understated but powerful final third. I have a feeling this will fly a little under the radar, but it really shouldn’t.
I didn’t really listen to The Cure growing up, and for this I blame my parents. Ask me to sing the back catalogues of Tear for Fears, Gloria Estefan or plenty of other accessible 80s pop ‘icons’ and I’ll give most people a run for their money, but Robert Smith’s happysad crooning was at best something I was only vaguely aware of until they decided to headline Glastonbury (remember Glastonbury?) in 2019 and I listened to Disintegration pretty much on loop for six months beforehand, and even though I ended up having a small mental collapse and leaving the festival before they even took to the stage, I am now fully aware of just how much music sounds has been heavily influenced by The Cure.
Which is a very longwinded way of saying that W. H. Lung sound like The Cure, but in a way that makes you want to carry on listening to them, as opposed to lamenting that there’s no creativity in music anymore and everything is a lukewarm imitation of something greater you missed the first time around.
I’m back! Did you miss me? Didn’t even notice I was away? Well, I was – moving house since you asked. Yeah, it was pretty brutal. Boxes breeding boxes and all that. Anyway, here’s an absolute banger from Ora The Molecule’s new album Human Safari that you might not have heard yet by way of an apology. I won’t let it happen again.
Not only are Nation of Language touring Europe next year (tickets on sale tomorrow for all you synth-pop devotees), but they’ve also just announced a new album A Way Forward which lands 05 November, so today has been a Very Good Day for me. Wounds Of Love is the lead single and continues in a similarly evocative, happysad vein as their previous output. I bloody love these guys!
A welcome to return to JUNKHEART whose new single Queen of the Nile landed today. He cites Tears for Fears, Blood Orange and The Japanese House as key influences – all of whom I love, obviously – and while inviting comparisons to other artists can be a risky business, Queen of the Nile is just so good he completely gets away with it. Without doubt one of the most vital, exciting new artists of the year so far.
Hooray! It’s a new song from TENDER: one of my favourite musical discoveries of the last few years, and a band that I have somehow still managed not to see play live. Currently have tickets to a show in November… how’s that looking lads? Lads?? Ah well, one day we shall be together. And until then, please keep delivering the goods. Namely, big, anthemic, synthy, emotional tunes like this. Cool? Coooool.
Brooklyn-based synth enthusiasts Nation of Language have just released their latest album Introduction, Presence, which sounds exactly like the soundtrack of your favourite offbeat 80s drama where the protagonists embark on nihilistic but ultimately seductive adventures until someone dies of a drug overdose and they have to question their behaviour but ultimately just end up lighting yet another cigarette and saying “fuck it… where’s the party?”. If that sounds like the kind of film you’d enjoy, then you’ll probably really like lead single September Again.