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: 79 / 100 “Apocalyptic riffing, vicious drumming, and savage vocals delivered with a signature snarl give Ram’s latest full-length effort an attractive sound, though Rod is laden with awkward compositional choices that ensure the album can’t compete with the Swedish band’s past efforts in heavy metal tyranny.”
Rating: 62 / 100 The Midnight’s venture into modern soft synthwave is quietly pleasant but relatively unfulfilling.
Rating: 83 / 100 “On the surface, Across the Line has everything needed to be a heavy metal masterpiece for the modern age. Unfortunately, it suffers from too much of a good thing, and the unvarying pace and delivery of each song leads to flavor fatigue before the recording reaches its conclusion.”
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.”
The history of metal music between the years 1970 and 1990 with a focus on the responsible use of the non-synonymous terms “metal” and “heavy metal.”
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: 69 / 100 “The gritty, authentic, and immensely exciting songs that open the album are valuable contributions to an NWOTHM scene that is frequently too glossy and polished for its own good. Yet Visions in the Night quickly slumps into bargain bin material for the remainder of its running time with uninspired riffs, repetitive song structures, and grating vocal performances.”
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.”