Do you ever just look at an album cover and know you’re gonna like what’s inside? Now, I realize this doesn’t actually make much sense — the cover art, despite what a certain weekly feature of mine would suggest, ultimately has no bearing on the music that comprises its album. Coincidence or not, it’s been happening to me a lot lately, and you can add The Affirmation in as the latest example. The Blade Runner-esque cover of their debut full-length, My Way Home, instantly caught my eye, setting the table perfectly for what ended up being a pretty excellent collection of tunes within.
But as awesome as the cover is, it’s a little misleading. You’d almost think, looking at it, that, surely, The Affirmation is a darksynth or cyberpunk act. You’d be wrong. Sonically, the Buenos Aires duo is actually a closer counterpart to more melodic, dreamwave fare like FM-84 or Timecop1983. For much of the album, producers Pablo Cordes and Melisa Beato lean into soft, soothing pad landscapes and tag team on emotional vocal performances. There’s even a sax lead on “The Road”! And it rules!
Generally speaking, My Way Home is a slickly-produced and delightfully reminiscent listen. Even on the occasional moments when Cordes and Beato snap you out of your reverie — as on the sci-fi soundscape buildup of “Breakpoint” or the vehement, outrun-esque sounds of “Bandersnatch,” for example — the experience is never anything less than pleasant. The Affirmation is here to evoke a sweet sense of nostalgia, and the success and consistency of this album shows they’re quite comfortable with that mission.
The other takeaway is probably pretty obvious, but I feel bears mentioning here all the same: good lord, the synthwave community’s in a good place right now.
The Affirmation, for example, is as far as I can recall, the first synthwave act I’ve listened to from Argentina — or from South America in general, now that I think of it. (Now, I haven’t been deliberately ignoring these scenes. Rather, there is, I think, a somewhat disproportionate amount of word of mouth for North American and European synthwave acts ’round these parts, and I just…get a bit tunnel-visioned. In the end, I have to plead guilty to “not really knowing where else to look.”)
In any case, in the couple of days since I came across My Way Home, I’ve tried to correct that, and fallen down a bit of an Argentine rabbit hole in the process. With a bit of digging, I’ve come across acts like Ferrari Kid (who guests on the aforementioned “Bandersnatch”), Midnight Fighters, Love Impasse, and dozens of others. (The “Argensynthia” playlist is a great place to start, if you’re interested.)
The point being, just about anywhere you look — whatever scene you decide to hone in on — you’re gonna find a great range of quality synth acts. You just have to not be a dummy like me and actually, you know…think to look around a bit more. Lesson learned: time to dig deeper.
BONUS CONTENT: The NewRetroWave Ultimate Bundle (*Benefits UNICEF*)
Oh man, don’t y’all feel lucky this week? Well, if you don’t just by sheer virtue of there being bonus content in this post, you probably will after reading said content.
Chances are, if you follow synthwave, you’ll have heard of NewRetroWave. The website / YouTube channel / record label has established itself as a force in the scene and a vital groundbreaker for emerging synth artists. NRW does a shit-ton for this music. And now, they’re doing a shit-ton for charity.
Head on over to Groupees and you’ll see that NRW has put the vast majority of its discography into an Ultimate Bundle, with proceeds going to help children in need via UNICEF USA. Donate to the cause, and you unlock some of their discography! The more you donate, the more synthwave goodness you get to put in your earholes. Great music, even-better cause.
The campaign runs through the end of the month, so spread the word and throw a few coins their way!
That will — finally — do it for this week’s edition. Check back soon for more retro goodness!