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Synthwave Album Review: "Outrun Is Dead" by Mr. Creep

Author:

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

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Initial Impressions

Mr Creep ‘s Outrun Is Dead album is an energetic blast through neon-drenched retrowave sounds. It has some fun horror touches and a general feeling of big, cinematic sounds that paint entertaining images for the listener. It is also a clean, clear production that feels well-thought out and definitely delivers on the enjoyment quotient. It seems like Mr. Creep had a good time creating this music which always improves things in my view.

The first element that I found grabbing was the overall energy of the album. There are seriously big drums, howling guitar that shreds through the tracks along with some impassioned sax and even the classic horror vibes of a pipe organ to add to the variety of the synth sounds. As a whole, these elements make for a lot of fun listening that produces a sonic journey through the neon energy of classic synthwave music.

I especially enjoy the guitar work on Outrun Is Dead. There’s a real energized, shredding power to the guitar on several tracks as well as some cool “spaghetti Western” feeling coming from the twangy guitar on “Devil Inside Show” that was fun to hear. I like the combo of guitar chops and the sense of playfulness on this album.

I also enjoy the creative use of synth sounds on Outrun Is Dead. There’s a strong variety of tones and timbres here as well as a good deal of layering of sounds. Things aren’t too busy in the music, but there are lots of moving parts that interact to keep one’s ear engaged in the tracks.

There’s also the matter of the production values of this album. It is a crisp, clear and balanced sound that doesn’t get overwhelmed by any single element. I always enjoy music with well-considered sonic quality.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Outrun Is Dead”

“Outrun Is Dead” comes charging to life with a rapid driving pulse of quickly oscillating bass and a minor key arpeggio winding out over it. There’s a powerful draw as the electric guitar howls and soars from the music, crying and climbing over the top of the pulsing bass and an evil laugh cuts in to add some great horror movie flavour.

“Castlevania”

There’s a lead synth part with entertaining classical music influences and a distinct “Castlevania” vibe when the pipe organ sound doubles with the synth. It has a bit of a swung feeling to it that I also like. Once again the guitar cries out into the track before the oscillating synth pulse returns with some thundering drums. Bursts of shining synth leap out over the continually driving pulse under them before we return to the main theme.

“Hyperdrive”

There’s a flourish of classic ‘80s sounding drums that open “Hyperdrive” before blasts of shiny synth bounce over the charging drums and throbbing bass that accelerates the track forward. I am drawn to the quick, dirty guitar riffs that slice over the powerful drumbeat. There’s a drum fill and then the vocals hit.

A bouncy synth element volleys back and forth through the music while as the glowing synth melody leaps out and soars sparkling over the rest of the musical elements. The guitar slices in again, crying out and flying up high in a soaring howl. The vocal melody is catchy and energetic, snagging the ear, driven by Glean FoxX’s strong singing voice.

There’s darkness rising as the lyrics say, “You can feel by the drive, the demons side by side, drag you down to Hell.” Clearly this is no ordinary car ride as the words point out, “Hot wheels that take the line. The power is the devil inside.” This is, according to the narrator, “Forever reason to fight the hyperdrive.”

In the chorus, the narrator says he needs time as he leaves the past and takes his mind away. Right now it’s time to let the synth rise and “give up the time.” The sense of dread grows in the lyric, “When the darkness (is) put in your face, the truth and faith, the living dead come out of the grave” and then the song asks, “What do you do, beyond the night?”

“Devil Inside Show”

“Devil Inside Show” comes to life with a rough-edged synth pulse and a guitar that has “spaghetti western” vibes. The guitar plays a slow, cinematic-feeling melody as the powerful beat slaps into the track along with an oscillating rough-edged synth pulse. A wheeling, dancing pipe organ sound climbs through the track.

The lead synth has a similarly driving quality that adds more drama as it spins around. There’s a drum fill and that classic synthwave pulse is joined by flaring, round flashes of sound that expand into the music along with a delicate choral voice that hovers in the background over that endless pulse.

“Cali Nights”

There’s pure passion pouring from the sax that kicks off “Cali Nights” as it slides warmly into the music along with shiny bursts of synth chords and some slap bass. There’s a big drum fill and the sax howls again.

I feel the sax adds a necessary element of smooth energy to the music on this track. The smooth beat hits along with deep bass before that slap bass sound comes in again. The beat grows stronger as chiming synths shine into the track and the sax drifts through its open spaces.

“Power Trash”

“Power Trash” starts with an 8-bit chip sound that cries out over sirens and a quickly moving beat. A deep bass pulse and a driving, aerobics friendly beat hits along the bright glow of an energized synth line. I do like the feeling of big hair and Lycra that I get from this music.

The ghostly, chippy lead moves in again and there are vocal samples and sirens as that beat drives on. A quick beat with a growing, swelling, rough-edged synth adds a thick weight to proceedings and the slow, moving chip sound cries out over top. The beat subdivides with a big drum as now a high, thin technological sound moves in and through before returning to the opening part.

Final Thoughts

My main reason for getting enjoyment out of Outrun Is Dead is the playful energy and slightly over-the-top, cinematic quality that it exudes. When you add to that the well-produced nature of it with the varied musical elements, the end result is a ton of fun.

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