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Synth Album Review: "Astoria Legend" by Astoria Legend

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Astoria Legend’s self-titled album is bursting with glowing light, aching with melancholy nostalgia but still exuberant, full of life and touched by an irrepressible sense of hope. There are elements of synth pop integrated with synthwave, tinged by other influences to create a cohesive musical whole that I find quite engaging for my ears.

The first element to mention on this album is the excellent vocal work. The lead singer has a voice that can whisper or soar, caress or emote strongly. He has a quality of earnestness and passion that comes pouring out and suffuses the whole album with expression and sincerity.

Another strong part of Astoria Legend’s album is the lyrical content. The lyrics are full of intense imagery and pure emotional expression, and each song unfolds its own unique story. I get the sense that the words mattered as much as the music, so I am glad that this album can showcase them.

The way that Astoria Legend integrates the musical elements of the track has been well done. There are rich melodies that often contrast wistful emotions with hopeful, positive sensations. Those melodies are carried on synths that can leap and flash or caress with delicacy, while solid drums drive on and the music brims with emotion and surges with energy.

Track-by-Track Analysis

"Astoria Legend"

“Astoria Legend” sweeps into existence on a rising breath of wind while sparkling synth glows through it. Full, rich chords add support to the other musical elements. I enjoy the swell of choral sound that fills the sonic spaces of the track.

There’s something passionate about the vocal sounds as they soar over the high, glittering chimes and the weight of bass below. Clouds of synth sound swell and grow before slowly fading away again.

"The Door"

Solid, shifting bass leaps into “The Door” to start it off before the softness and emotional expression of the lead singer’s voice carries a gentle vocal melody over the unique, bursting drums. The chorus rises in a bright arc over the sunlight of flashing synth and the exuberant beat.

I am drawn to the impassioned guitar that whirls out in shimmering lines while the beat explodes forward again. Ripples of shiny sound are accented by a hollow, metallic series of notes. Trumpeting bursts of positive feeling synth cry out while the massive drums burst forward and the chorus rises above it all.

A new relationship can be like a portal to a new dimension of experiences and emotions. The lyrics of this song convey the feeling of a transformational connection. Our narrator begins as he is “uncovering the door” that he’s been chasing. He muses about whether he is reaching “in or outward” and asks, “Can you see yourself in my reflection?”

The chorus talks about how they’ll break the rules with ”spacetime in motion.” He promises that “tonight you can’t imagine, discover the word in absolute.” He says that she’ll experience magic “unfolding into action.”

Now he talks about how he’ll be waiting “another day alone” and he’ll listen for something calling to him. There’s a sense of despair as he talks of “seeing the dark in our dimension, the light burnt out.”

He extends an invitation to travel to “a world out of this world tonight” where they’ll ride “pure emotion” and paint ecstasy. I especially enjoy the image of “neon bleeding from the trees” while a vivid illustration is created.

"Hailey"

“Hailey” comes to life as rising, flowing synth chords are joined by a steady bass pulse. A full, round synth with a brassy glow carries a gently shadowed melody. I am a big fan of the lead singer’s expressive, caressing vocals as they move over the flashes of shining synth and the drum throb shapes the music.

The chorus is full of dreamy, wistful emotions while the bass and drum pulse easily propel the track forward. Glistening skeins of elevated synth weave in between the words, the deep bass heartbeat and the solid drums.

The yearning feeling in the vocals is now joined by dancing, whirling, medium high arpeggios before the track breaks into a half time pulse. Twinkling lines of synth shimmer through before the vocals rise in a powerful tide of expression.

The narrator talks about laying “on the moon one last time” because with “foresight we’d be livin’, counting on a wish to survive.” Even as the words leave his lips, he sees that “she’s getting closer, blaze illuminating, devouring.” He adds that “she’s taking over.”

There’s a sense of pleading I the lines, “Hailey bring me back to Earth. Coming down we seek forgiveness” as we’ve forgotten “our place among the stars.” He talks of her “shattering heat…burning bluer than her eyes in summer.” I also enjoy the imagery of her exploding into the ocean through a canopy of trees to create a “raging tidal wave’ that will wash everything away.

After all of this destruction, there will be a return of new life that will erase all the toxic elements. Hailey will leave “scars of gratitude” as she creates “what’s intended for.” The song ends as he begs her to “bring me back to Earth.”

"Surrender"

There’s an eruption of dynamic motion as “Surrender” comes to life. A bouncing line of synth volleys as smooth, warm synths fly into the track along with the emotive vocals. The weighty drums add propulsion and the bass supports the energetic, passionate vocal melody.

A compelling mixture of hope, anticipation and love fills the vocals and the drums explode forward again. The chorus cries out and rises in glittering clouds and the relentless beat pushes on. A segment in which shimmering synths drift in ethereal waves gives way to the song’s dynamic energy. Before the track ends, there’s a drift into sparkling chimes and flowing air before the chorus launches over the heartbeat of drums.

A feeling of escape and a sense of boundaries pushed fills the lyrics of this song. As we begin, a sense of danger and collapse touches the song with images of a loaded gun and a basket-case. The narrator says, “We're on the run. Who could've known what's right or wrong?”

He insists that “this one exception can’t be fatal to manage” but they soon realize that their cover has been blown and it’s a “blinding light, we should have known.” As everything falls apart, he adds that “the rain won’t even make a sound.”

The narrator promises “when she’s running, on fire, I’ll take the heat.” He talks of a spotlight burning through him and speaks of being “so fragile and desperate.” Now he asks, “Is this our surrender?” as he adds, “they’re calling for our surrender.”

A sense of defiance echoes through the line, “She said it’s time. Tear down the walls and we’ll be fine.” She adds, “Let’s not mistake adventure for romantics.” Now the narrator talks about raising a flag as “they’re taking aim” while the everything “crashes down” they are fighting to hold steady.


Now the “fires burn and burn out” as whispers call that it’s time to go. As the narrator is “wrapped in her arms, the undertow pulling me in” there’s an inner voice that speaks. It talks about “a world that’s even closer than we imagined” and ends with the line, “it’s just us two forever. Still I’m here with you.”

"The Weekend"

“The Weekend” opens with lush, slowly evolving synth chords and a charging beat. The vocals exude upbeat energy while rapid arpeggios glimmer over the drive of the drums. I am drawn to the earnest expression of the vocalist on this song.

Medium-low synth pulses cascade while the drums push the song ahead. There’s a mixture of summery hope and darker shadings of times that won’t come again in this song. Chiming stars of synth glitter and the vocal melody softly caresses the ears before the drums leap into action.

There’s a feeling of warmth shot through with loss in this song. The narrator talks bout how they’re on a “soiree, craving the taste of sugar” and they’re getting all dressed up. The narrator asks, “Will you promise me we’re going to lose our way?” since it is their getaway. I enjoy the imagery in the line, “a summer fading into the city breeze” as the narrator speaks of uncovering treasure underneath “every corner.”

The chorus is a soaring tribute to a road trip in which they “hit the back roads, to the highway with the throttle up.” He talks about how they’ll embrace “the bright lights…until the weekend ends.”

Power and speed are well reflected in the line “we’re breathing the redline” as he talks about jumping off and blacking out the morning. He says, “We really need the sunrise to keep us alive” and says he can feel the wind swirling around adding, “It’s such a pleasure to see.”

Their need to escape is strong otherwise they’ll “strip the city of the glamor, the allure” and lose “the power just to pretend.”

"Keep Running"

Delicately sparkling synth floats across the open soundscape of “Keep Running” as the drums leap in underneath the shining chimes and a deeper synth that doubles them. I enjoy the way the glistening synth melody moves with the dancing vocal melody. The song drifts into a gentle section in which light-filled synths glow and the beat keeps pushing forward.

The synths have a metallic shimmer to them as the melody arcs and skips over the drums.A segment with flowing air, and and the cascading, massive feeling drums as a more delicate section quickly leaps back into the chorus and the drums propel the track while the warm, positive melody buoys up the song.

I am drawn to the nautical imagery and the sense of trying to break free in the lyrics of the song. As we begin, we see the song’s subject “sailing into the night, splitting faces to decide if he’s still alive.” The sense of asserting oneself is expressed in the line, “It doesn't matter if there's room, he shouted out, I'm making my own.”

There’s strong imagery created in the line, “Push it down until the moon calls, howling out.” He speaks of the tide breaking to bring him home, but he doesn’t want to return. The sense of his footsteps being dogged is well-expressed in the line, “Shadows following at midnight follow closely ’til morn or I'll slip away” still he keeps on “running away from you.”

Now he’ll make the cliffs as “the clouds align, flash of a silhouette.” There’s something raw and elemental in the verse, “Feel the slack, the line. The swell will eat you alive.” The feeling of pressing on regardless comes through as he talks about the roof being shattered and the rain coming in, but still he’s going to “push it up until the flood comes rushing out.”

He talks about how he’s hiding in the light and “holding on to what remains.” He is called but “still I keep running away from you” as there’s a “sinking surround” and a reckoning while he’s running out.

"Evolve"

“Evolve” opens with fragile, airy piano lightly brushing into the music as the track begins to crescendo before the throbbing, solid drums move with the glinting synths. The vocal melody is full of gentleness and ease while indistinct voices murmur in the background.

Arpeggiating patterns of notes are carried on a full, sunny synth and the beat adds a bounce to the song. The vocals yearn and rise, full of power and expression while the increasing energy of the music reaches ever higher. There is light pouring out of every musical element in this song.

A palpable sense of deep love and fear of losing it fills the lyrics of this song. One of the two characters n the song shows outward calm but he’s “beating on the in.” The other is “clutching at her arms, she seems unsure” while they draw closer.


The chorus asks, “How could I live without your love?” and adds “all that I have can’t be enough.” The song expresses it in terms of a dance. The question of living without the other person’s love is posed again and worry fills the line, “It's been a lifetime. Shadows in the sunset they've grown.”

There’s wonderful imagery in the lines, “She's wild as ever, skipping through the flame grass” and in the idea that she breathes for him. With the closure, “come closer” in life and emotion. The narrator speaks of “love driving us out of the dark” as they wait for “the first to come enlighten you.”

The song ends on the idea of “a love so pure it pierces through, tailored to you.”

"It's Our Time, Down Here"

Slightly shadowed chords move with a very high, shimmering chime that ever so delicately brushes the music to start “It’s Our Time, Down Here.” Waves of lower sound move under the bell-like synths that move with melodic grace over the thumping kick drum pulse. The drums come in with full power and the caressing vocals call out.

An elevated synth carries a hopeful melody that doubles the vocal melody. I enjoy the earnest, emotive vocals that are full of honesty. Synths flicker like shafts of sunlight and the vocals soar over the drum and bass pulse. There’s an intricate guitar solo that trips lightly over the notes, cartwheeling and crying out with passion over the beat’s pulse.

Nostalgia is often a complex mixture of emotions that are examined well in this song’s lyrics. There’s a feeling of unreality as the narrator talks about how, “I first saw it in a movie, she’s stretched out in front of me, spinning under the sunset.”

He talks about how it was easy the last time and adds “take in the ocean breeze, I could never forget that.” The good days are “calling my name and lately I can’t find myself” he says. There are flashbacks that might drive him “crazy dreaming of the days we tried to outrun the sunset.”

Memories of the excitement of taking “the long way with the top down” as they were chased around the lake shore by the police” make him want to return to those days. I especially enjoy the image in the words, “a hot pink Lamborghini pressed on a white t-shirt, I could never forget that” and again he aches to return to those times.

Conclusion

Astoria Legend’s debut album comes on strong with emotive vocals, explosive energy and a rich sonic palette that allows for lush synth sounds to give full expression to the earnest passion that fills each part of it.

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