Synth Album Review: "Memories From the Future" by Liam Leon
Liam Leon’s album, Memories From the Future, is a synth-drenched, nostalgic, and energetic album of well-written songs delivered in his warm, impassioned and very pop-friendly voice. There’s a lot of light and glow that emanates from these tracks and the whole album is infused with a great vibe that I found quite infectious. It’s fascinating that it seems to unfold a tale of being absorbed into a virtual paradise that the narrator wants to return to again.
The first observation that I want to make about Memories From the Future is about Liam Leon’s voice. It has a lovely warm ear massaging quality to it that suits the pop sensibilities of this album well. He can infuse a lot of passion into it and let it soar through the washes of synth backing it. I also really appreciated how clearly and sharply it comes through in the mix. I had no trouble understanding what he was singing at all.
My second observation about the album is that Liam Leon knows how to write songs. The lyrics are well chosen and can create some truly beautiful images. He doesn’t over complicate his songs, but he also doesn’t make them too simplistic. The songs themselves are full of motion and energy. I like how the songs can function as support to the backstory of the album as well as standing on their own. The music also benefits from Absolute Valetine’s excellent mastering work.
The backing music for these tracks deploys synth sounds well. They bolster the vocal melodies while adding their own warmth, glow and energy to the music. I feel that he chooses sounds that fit well into the pop feeling of the album while still retaining their own distinctive qualities that make them an integral part of the musical character of Memories From the Future.
Now comes the time for me to talk about those tracks which I enjoyed most on the album and lay out my reasons for that enjoyment.
Track by Track Album Review
“The Adventure” is a track with a flying, bright synth melody that glows out along with snippets of Liam Leon’s warm, poppy voice singing “Let’s go on an adventure/It’s who we are” and whirling arps dance along with the pulsing beat that permeates the track. I enjoy how Liam Leon’s voice was layered into the track, becoming another instrument. I was also a fan of how solid the drum and bass support was for that soaring melody.
Liam Leon’s voice dominates “More For Me to See” with its pop sweetness and expressive qualities. The vocal melody is catchy and Ilked the addition of a little echo to the end of the lines. The lead synth melody in the track has an energetic and melodic feeling to it as the beat drives it onwards. I also enjoyed the synth ornamentation that added a sparkle to the track. This is a track that showcases the excellent production qualities of the album.
This is a song about struggling against the feeling of being trapped and frozen in time. There’s a strong sense of this in the line, “My body’s racing but I’m not moving forward.” There’s still hope when Liam Leon sings, “This can’t be all there is/There will be more than this.”
This song also contains some of the best sunset imagery I’ve heard in a song with the lines, “The daylight is turning into dusk/Setting the flames of time in motion as the sky erupts.” It also conveys the feeling of time that fills this song. I also like the idea that he was running to the “other side” and into the shadows when the streetlights began to shine on him.
The chorus has a hopeful quality to it in the words, “I don’t wanna be waiting any longer/If I move forward I’ll be stronger.” However he adds, “Sometimes it’s hard to dream/When the waves of time crash over me” and goes on to sing that his heart is on fire because “there’s so much more for me to see.”
There is also a warning about trying to relive the past (or the future past) as Liam Leon sings, “I see myself through the looking glass/The face that I once knew fades into black/This path will lead into the same reflection where I’ll be looking back.”
“Running Out of Love” opens with a smooth flow of air and a glistening, chiming synth. Powerful drums kick in along with a drifting synth line and the bass pulsates under it all. The chorus of this song is so infectious and the synth glow definitely adds to the emotive dimensions of this track.
This is a song about love confounded and drifting away. There’s a real sense of loss in the lyric, “Reality had a say, your love is drifting away/Wanted to tell you but I never/got the chance to say/I feel it every day.” Liam Leon sings of trying to close the gap because, “I don’t have the strength any more/I’ve been falling into the trap/And I just feel like giving up.”
The chorus tells the story of “running out of love, running out of touch” and talks about “running out of reach, running far from me.” There’s a sense of aching in the words, “I wanna be the one/I don’t wanna be alone.”
The contradictory feelings in the next lines are well expressed in the words, “I tried to run away but then you asked me to stay/Are these feelings delusions?/Another chance today could be another mistake.”
There’s a sort of ancient, folk music quality to the lead synth in “This Is the Future” which lends it a wistful quality. The beat has a skipping, juddering feeling to it and everything has a smooth flow it ot. All of the elements interlock to support Liam Leon’s voice as it cries out through the track along with the catchy, melodic synth line.
I enjoy this song’s invitation to the future, even when it feels uncertain. Liam Leon sings, “I know you’re scared of what might be/Filling your soul with doubt/I know you wanna see the end but there’s a path to walk down.” As he unfolds the verse, he says, “It’s a whole new land (of opportunity)/Stay close (and follow me)/This is our time/So are you ready?”
The uplift comes into the lyrics in the chorus which say, “This is the future 3030/That place where all the light shines brighter/This is the future/Life’s in a hurry so wave the past goodbye tonight” and concludes, “This is the future 3030/Follow me and I’ll take us higher/This is the future so don’t you worry/We’re gonna be alright.”
“Feel Your Love” is pure slamming house music. It’s definitely a banger! The track is warm and poppy, the beat made my head bob and my booty shake as Liam Leon’s energizing voice flies out over the music. The vocal melody has an ear grabbing quality to it as well. I can see this track really filling a dance floor (when and if dancefloors ever get filled again).
This is a song about lost love and craving a relationship that has gone by. The lyrics say, “Too many times/Too many days/Too many wasted pointless ways/You wanted everything I couldn’t give/Your love is something that keeps on playing on my mind.” He talks about how the person in the song took a part of him and adds, “I can’t let it go so easily/I need you to stay ‘cuz I wanna feel/I wanna feel your love tonight!”
I have only one small quibble with “Paradise” and that is the tape sound that starts it off. However, that’s really a minor issue which hardly detracts from the rest of the song. It has a warm, sliding melody that feels like it’s soaring over the bass in the track. It has gentle and soothing vibes as the melody dances through it. This is a song full of hopeful nostalgia.
This is a song about the escape we often make to worlds of the imagination as children. Liam Leon sings, “Every day we’d dream of a land where we’d escape from everyone/We’d take the shortcuts to a world where we belonged/Somewhere familiar/A home away from home.” He writes, “You’d walk beside me/ I could see it in your eyes/You and me/We found a paradise.”
Even though times have changed he continues, “I refuse to believe that the path to our past has changed/But if that’s the case then I’ll be running in circles until I can find my way again.”
“Memories From the Future” succeeds because of Liam Leon’s soaring voice and his abilities to tell stories through imagery both lyrical and musical. As his first effort for an album, this is very well done and I am hoping we’ll be hearing more from him soon.