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Synth Album Review: "'80s Dreams" by The Future Kids

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Overall Impressions

The Future Kids' ‘80s Dreams is unabashed, unadulterated retrowave goodness that oozes melodic nostalgia as it paints emotive neon-drenched images in the listener’s mind. This is a well-produced homage to an idyllic ‘80s childhood that none of us really had, but all of us yearn to have experienced.

The beauty and expressive power of the melodies on ‘80s Dreams are a major factor in the album’s success. The Future Kids has crafted melodies that tug at the heartstrings with their evocative mixture of dreaming, melancholy and energy. The melodic content produces a deep yearning to return to an idealized version of the ‘80s and bask in their pastel-hued optimism.

Another strong aspect of ‘80s Dreams is the synth selection that The Future Kids uses on the album. The wide range of different tones and timbres encompass gleaming light and smoothly flowing sounds. All of these bright, shining and delicate sounds help to deepen the feelings of dreaming, hoping and remembering that characterize the music on this album.

I also want to touch on the production values of the album. There’s an undeniable richness and quality to the sound of this music. Each element is clear and clean, but they weave together to produce a luscious sound. The high quality of the overall sound ensures that every scrap of emotion comes through to the listener from the music.

"Prologue"

“Prologue” opens as deep, resonant notes grow into the music along with slowly spinning, shining arpeggios. The glowing notes climb in a full line, growing in power as the creamy smooth bass glides further below. The sharp glitter of the elevated arpeggios keeps whirling along above the brassy, gleaming chords that climb and slowly shift.

I am drawn to the underlying warmth that those chords provide as the glowing arpeggios dance high above them. The bass has weight and a tidal power as it rhythmically pulsates and the dense, medium-high synth carries a melody aching with dreamy nostalgia. Glimmering arpeggios keep spinning out above the bass power below them before the track fades.

A sunny synth glow is broken by round, nasal notes that crescendo along with a airy sweeping sound to start “Remembering.“ A steady bass pulsation supports the bursting notes as the crystalline arpeggios whirl out above the bass. Bursting, medium-high synth blocks give way to another glassy, dancing arpeggio and solid retro drums.

Round, medium-low synth sings a gentle melody, full of the melancholy of memory. I feel the deep emotion in the melody poignantly as it is expressed. The melody is taken up by a higher, glittering synth as it sails out in a shining line that is tender and hopeful. The big drums pulsate to drive the song while the melody mingles dreams, memory and hope. The track has a flowing quality as the elevated arpeggios keep sparkling.

The music transitions to a smoother segment in which the bass pulses distantly and the melody caresses. There’s a crescendo and the drums flourish and throb as the delicate melody lightly touches the music, rich with emotion and a wish to return to a magical past. The music ends on reverent synths and steady bass throb.

"Never Forget"

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“Never Forget” begins with a full, distorted bass throb that’s joined by hazy synths slowly dancing out in a tender, enfolding melodic pattern over the static crackle around it. The drum pulse is also muffled but begins to blossom into the track’s full sound. The melodic pattern is carried on medium-high, glowing synths with a sharper glitter sparkle like sunlight on water.

Large synth blocks burst out in shining chords, repeating in a flaring pattern that echo the huge retro drums. I am drawn to the misty gleam of the melodic pattern that calls to mind distant memories, carrying me back to a sweet past. The drums keep up their steady throb while the sparkling, distant synths flicker and the wistful melodic pattern repeats. The melodic line grows in power as it sweeps along while the big beat propels the music onward. There’s both uplift and bittersweet feeling in the melodic patten as we drift back into haze and then fade into silence.

"Beneath The Stars"

A gentle, high sound moves behind rich, evenly pulsing synth chords that burst in flaring light to kick off “Beneath The Stars.” A steady drum heartbeat throbs behind the other sonic elements, growing in strength and propulsion.

A quickly spinning, shimmering arpeggio flickers while round, smooth synths glide out in a caressing flow. The drums have an easy feeling to them as they throb and a steadily metallic sound, like a shaken tambourine adds one extra element.

The glistening arpeggio steadily spins and the drums gain added interest from an additional percussive element. Easy-going, full sounds swirl in the background and I enjoy the settling and dreamy feeling that permeates this track. As the music sails through the ether it slowly fades out to quiet.

“’80s Dreams”

“’80s Dreams” comes to life as quickly flickering arpeggios move along with shiny blocks of slowly shifting synth and an oscillating bass throb. There’s a sweeping sound and the drums leap in to propel the music forward while the bass oscillates.

Medium-high synths intertwine to create a feeling of energetic warmth and whorls of pastel sound wash through the music underneath. A tambourine rattles softly while glittering arpeggios rapidly spin out over the drum and bass heartbeat.

I am enamoured of the feeling of aching nostalgia pouring from this music. A constant arpeggiating sparkle sending motes of light flying through the track as the beat’s propulsion adds a feeling of progress. Elevated synths keep leaping and flashing while the gentle sonic background swirls all around and the music fades.

“College 1984”

“College 1984” opens as clear, clean light emanates from the glowing background as slow, steady drums and full bass guide the track. Round, medium high-synth flashes as twinkling arpeggios spin and the resonant bass throbs. A retro-sounding drum pulse adds more shape to the music while the intermingling, gentle synths in the background add a sense of ease.

The youthful potential and optimism here is something that I find touching. The music has a powerfully rhythmic feeling as it the slow, steady drumbeat and smooth bass pulse together. This music breathes and flows, the low end sounds giving it more form. The higher synth parts sing out in a voice that yearns for a bright future. The track floats to an end on unique, hollow-sounding percussion.

Conclusion

The Future Kids have refined their ultra-retrowave sound on ‘80s Dreams to create a neon-filled, pastel-washed journey through nostalgic dreamscapes. The album exudes a pure, concentrated essence of the ‘80s as we want them to have been, mingling remembrance and fantasy. I thoroughly enjoy listening to this album time and time again.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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