The Top 10 Synthwave Albums of 2017, including links to in-depth reviews of each entry.
Rating: 95 / 100 “Cosmic Boundaries is arguably the finest release from Phaserland to date, and once the shape and overall composition of the album become familiar, it can be enjoyed from start to finish without a single dip or break in its overall quality. The many inspired touches amid Phaserland’s careful compositions are a joy to discover and experience, and the true brilliance of the recording becomes clearer on each consecutive playthrough.”
Rating: 90 / 100 “Ellen Replay’s debut album Star Citizen 426 is a modest and subtly masterful synthwave creation that incorporates elements of classic synthpop, ambient music, space synth, and science fiction movie soundtracks into its tapestry of cosmic-oriented sounds. It delivers some of the finest and most addictive melodies of any release in the genre, and there’s a natural confidence in the album that helps it stand out from the large crowd of newcomers to the scene.”
Rating 87 / 100 “Four years after the excellent Deja Vu album, FM Attack has once again delivered a highly rewarding collection of songs. A pair of contributions from Mnynms help to accent and diversify FM Attack’s own vocal approaches, and several inspired melodic compositions propel the album into the upper echelon of the genre in 2017.”
Rating: 86 / 100 “Archeosynth is an undeniably spirited and original creation that succeeds in the artist’s goal to create a synth-based exploration of themes of ancient civilizations. The result is a satisfying conceptual voyage into history, science fiction, and superstition. The bold innovation and undeniable technical skill on display make Archeosynth one of the most remarkable albums of the year, even if some of its songs tend to be more rewarding than others.”
Rating: 82 / 100 “As Lost Future unfolds, its serene, slightly melancholic atmosphere begins to feel like its own world, with each track representing a visit to a different corner of the self-contained universe. Many of these experiences are genuinely surprising and immersive, and though a late-album collapse mars its overall quality, Lost Future stands as a gem of modern space synth.”
Rating: 88 / 100 “Sunset Neon takes tremendous risks with his willingness to tackle a different musical style on every song. With relatively minor exceptions, the risks pay off. Starlight’s immaculate production and glossy vocals offer a wealth of mainstream-friendly music that can hook listeners on the very first spin.”
Rating: 62 / 100 The Midnight’s venture into modern soft synthwave is quietly pleasant but relatively unfulfilling.
Rating: 90 / 100 “Beckett creates a musical voyage on Five that transports the listener to sun-soaked beaches, neon-hued dance clubs, and thrilling sporting events. It is the soundtrack to an unforgettable vacation, and it captures the essence and nostalgia of the ‘80s better than efforts from nearly all of Beckett’s contemporaries.”
Rating: 87 / 100 “Ace Marino’s dedication to the heart of synthwave music and his skillful implementation of the style is a welcome contribution to a scene that has increasingly lost touch with its roots. The result is a piece of ’80s-infused synth nostalgia that can be enjoyed and revisited numerous times.”
Rating: 18 / 100 “Dreamrider is a grating and often tedious effort that would be an underachiever as a debut album, even in 2012. As a release from an established artist in 2017, dropped into an ocean of synthwave music highlighted by brilliant and innovative songwriters from around the world, Dreamrider is a tragic offering that provides no comfort for fans who waited four years to hear from Lazerhawk.”
Rating: 83 / 100 “In a year when several of synthwave’s founding artists have struggled to create quality music, Overvad delivers a meaningful tribute to the sounds of Synthwave 1.0. His intelligent and innovative approach to songwriting frequently surpasses the repetitive structure of his inspirations, offering a fresh reminder of what made synthwave great in the first place.”
Rating: 77 / 100 “There’s no denying the technical skill and innovation displayed on Monochrome, which is consistently high throughout the recording, though the album’s brilliance is occasionally curbed by minimal verse compositions, a syrup-glazed vocal delivery, and reliance on uncomplicated hooks. Monochrome reveals its boldest colors when the instrumental compositions are allowed to speak for themselves.”
Rating: 92 / 100 “Retro enthusiasm radiates from the core of every song on Time Machine like the backdrop of a neon-hued discotheque. It beckons to the listener with infectious funk rhythms, brassy synthesizer melodies, and an irrepressibly positive attitude.”
Rating: 97 / 100 “The immaculate and spacious sound production gives every song the audio strength of a titan, and Isidor’s brilliant songwriting exploits the potential to its fullest. 3218 delivers numerous rich and rewarding compositions that tower over the efforts of lesser songwriters.”