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Synthpop EP Review: "Future Ghosts" by The Last Years

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


Initial Impressions

The Last Years’ Future Ghosts EP is a deeply emotive recording. I was moved by the expressions of love and loss that permeate the songs here. This is synth pop with heart and soul. It may use the musical language of the ‘80s, but what it has to say has relevance to anyone who has felt like this before. Add in strong vocals, electric guitar that sings and shimmering synths and the end result is expressive and touching.

The Last Years’ vocalist comes in with a very strong performance on this EP. His voice is clear, powerful and able to express everything from tenderness to loss. He can gently caress the ears or let loose with a soaring, sometimes slightly gruff tone that cuts right to the heart. I am a fan of the sound that he produces, suffice to say.

The guitar work on Future Ghosts is another element of the album that stood out for me. There’s a level of expressiveness that matches the vocalist’s ability to emote quite well and it adds another layer of depth to the exploration of each song’s theme. It never overwhelms, but it provides a nice complement to the singer’s strength.

Future Ghosts also has some nice sparkling, glowing and shimmering moments of synth in it. They often serve as a way to set the mood, staying in a supportive role and letting the energy and feeling of the vocals lead the way. The synths do add a nice quality of light to the music as well as adding to the emotional expression when they flow underneath the words and heighten their impact.

Track by Track Analysis

Here is a look at each track.

“Hands In the Dark”

“Hands In the Dark” opens with those powerful vocals that get me right in the gut. Underneath it, the deep throb of the beat and the bass lifts the song. I enjoy how the electric guitar dances in this track, while the impassioned vocals punch out over the deeply oscillating waves of bass. This track has a propulsive feeling that I dig and a nice glow from the synths that flow away in the background.

This song is a beautiful expression of love that is full of strong imagery. Right off the bat, I find the line, “Light up the night, searching for your hand in the dark” to convey a deep sense of connection.

As the song unfolds, the chorus is a deep expression of love in the words, “In the dark, all I want is to hold you close. Give me your heart and just know you’re the one I want to go home for every moment.”

There is a sense of urgency as well in the line, “We don’t have time to waste, into the night we fade” that adds weight to the song.

I also like the passion inherent in the lyrics that say, “Just follow me, we’ve done this a thousand times before. You know the way to move me baby” which only deepens the feeling of this song.

“TV Romantic”

There are long, flowing passages in which warm synths lock together beautifully on “TV Romantic” as the singer’s voice pours out passion and emotion. There’s another strong wave of bass and drums on this track. I enjoy the easy waves of shining synth that move under the leaping guitar while the vocal melody yearns above them. There’s a great throb and energy to this track with the guitar raising the level of emotional expression even higher.

The depth of emotion on this song is quite moving to me. The tenderness in the line, “the way the light moves across your face, I feel my heart move” was affecting to me as is the honesty in the words, “I know that we could never be the ones we see on TV but I just want you close to me. That feeling is reinforced by the words, “You stop now, but I don’t care. I feel my heart move.”

“Pulling Closer”

“Pulling Closer” has a caressing feeling to it, but it also expresses loss and aching. There’s a sadness that touches the singer’s voice as it tears out with deep emotion. I am drawn to the spinning, starry synths that shine under the guitar chords that surge into the music. There’s a lot of depth of feeling to which this track gives life. I enjoy how the emotions pour out in this music.

There is a palpable sense of absence and yearning in this song. As it starts, the lyrics say, “You look at me, you say division is where we met and now you’re alone.” There is a plea in the words, “Open your eyes and see this thing that broke me (and now you’re all alone.)”

The yearning finds expression in the line, “I drive through the night just to see how close you are to me.” There is caring too in the lines, “Look at you again and I see all our plans (now you’re all alone). Wonder where you are and wonder how you’ll be (now that you’re alone.)”

“Washed In Blue”

The way the guitar leaps upwards, full of expressive energy, mirrors the same energy that fills the singer’s voice on “Washed In Blue.” I enjoy the rich tone of the lead synth over the bass and drums that flow in waves through the track. The vocal melody has a slightly tragic quality that the singer is able to touch in his voice while the track glides around it.

This song is an intense expression of passion and desire. I find the imagery striking in lines like, “Faded light from the skies, it hides your eyes as I look through” and “I can’t seem to find my way, I’m lost in you, I’m washed in blue."

The passion finds strong expression in the words, “Your cries in the night left in the wake of me and you” and in the chorus, “Come over me like a wave, take me under. Ooh your heart carries me away, I can’t explain.”

The last verse also had powerful images in the lines, “You wash over me and come again. The sound of the night it calls our names.”

“Future Ghosts”

“Future Ghosts” is full of bright flashes of synth that move over the steady throb of the bass. I feel a pull from the shimmering guitar as well. There is a deep well of melancholy that flows through the vocal melody. I like how the synths seem to match the emotional tenor of the vocals and lyrics. I also enjoy how the deep bass rumble underpins the track and how raw the emotions expressed here are. Heart and soul is being poured into this music.

I was hit by an emotive hammer blow by the lyrics that cut to the quick here. The sense of loss is intense in lines like, “holdin’ on to you as I watch you fall away, clever lines won’t do” and the mental picture is even more starkly limned in the words that say, “became these ghosts that roam these halls, things we swore we’d never do.”

The raw ache in the lines, “distant eyes and words unsaid won’t heal these wounds. We only knew the end” got me right in the heart as did the final verse’s words that say, “Reaching for your hands as they slowly disappear. Broken hearts won’t mend, fighting back these tears.”

I think the sense of loss best comes through in the line, “Became the ghosts that roam these halls, all the things we’ll never be.”


Future Ghosts is a recording that manages to combine strong vocals, musically expressive tunes and an overall sense of deep emotion. I enjoy the journey that it took me on and I hope to hear a new album from The Last Years soon, if this EP is anything to go on.