RETROCUTION: Ultraboss shreds “Like a Man Who’s in Love” on new single

Welcome back, synth-heads! It’s time for another edition of Retrocution here at Nine Circles. All told, April was another solid month for synthwave, with several highlights from both relative newcomers and genre heavyweights alike. But ultimately, after a couple of months’ worth of leading with full-length albums in the column, it was a single that stood out to us most this month. So without wasting any more time, let’s dive into “Like a Man Who’s in Love,” the terrific new track from Ultraboss.

The Song:

The “Analysis”:

So, if you’ve followed this column through its many stops and starts over the years*, you’ll already be well acquainted with our affinity for Ultraboss. We were all over the two-part Slave to the Passion when it dropped back in 2019, and our enthusiasm hasn’t waned at all since then. (To be clear, mastermind PJ d’Atri has done plenty since then; we just… uh… haven’t always existed as a column in order to cover it all. Whoops!)

*If you haven’t followed this column through its many stops and starts over the years, Ultraboss is the vehicle through which virtuoso guitarist d’Atri blends classic pop metal stylings with retro/synthwave, into a kind of custom genre he calls “shredwave.” More often than not, it’s fuckin’ excellent.

Anyway, in the four years since Passion, Ultraboss has, well… only become even more ultra of a boss. (See what I did there?) We’ve gotten two more full-lengths, two EPs, and now a couple of singles — all on Rosso Corsa, which in and of itself should tell you this stuff’s freaking great — and with it all, we’ve seen d’Atri really lock into a groove with this stuff. Poppier stuff, shreddier stuff, more synth-focused stuff… there’s not really anyone out there juggling between these sounds as seamlessly as Ultraboss — or blending them nearly as well.

So, yes, there are many praises to sing about d’Atri. But, the funny thing is… he’s not actually the focal point of “Like a Man Who’s in Love.” I’d argue his playing might be one of the three biggest assets to the song’s success. Maybe. Which, ultimately, is a testament to just how stellar a track it is. If we can lose his incredible fretwork in amongst the proceedings, there’s gotta be some serious fire on display here, no?

The first thing that grabs you is the rhythm. It’s right at the forefront. It’s steady. Persistent. It grabs you and holds your interest throughout the song’s four-minute run-time. It makes the song feel like the soundtrack to a scene in an imaginary John Hughes movie, where a guy and a girl from “different sides of the tracks” separately realize they’re meant to be together and run to each other before the guy gets sent off to, like… stock market camp or some other summer activity straight out of a Reagan-era parent’s wet dream, from which their love couldn’t possibly recover. (Juuuuust a bit of a tangent there, but you get the idea.) The beat makes you pay attention. Period.

But there’s also the vocals! Holy shit, the vocals. I can’t find a credit list for the song anywhere, but it sure sounds like frequent Ultraboss collaborator Robert Beachgrove? In any case, the vocals freaking rule. If the beat gives the song a sense of urgency, the vocals give it its soul. I’ll come out and say it right now: I don’t think there’s a person alive who’ll listen to this chorus and not have it get stuck in his or her head. I can tell you right now, I’ll be singing this shit for actual months.

And, oh yeah! D’Atri’s here, too, with some trademark excellent guitar leads. There’s also a sax solo toward the end of the track that absolutely balls out. But in the context of the song’s overall mix, both end up feeling relatively peripheral to the proceedings. Which, honestly, is kinda great. This song is an absolute gem on its own. Let it fuckin’ shine, I say.

Anyway, I think I’ve said enough. “Like a Man Who’s in Love” is unbelievably good, and you should get it into your ear holes as soon as possible. Sound good?

Like a Man Who’s in Love” is available now via Rosso Corsa Records. For more information on Ultraboss, visit d’Atri’s Instagram account.


More April synth highlights:

  • Waveshaper dropped a killer new single called “Hearts,” which is positively dripping with video game aesthetics. (Sonic and visual)
  • The ever-prolific Sellorekt/LA Dreams dropped the new EP, Strangers, on April 7. It’s quiet, understated, and as terrific as you’d expect.
  • I dunno if I’d fully classify Kansas City quartet Dragon Inn 3 as “synthwave” per se, but there’s plenty of retro-flavored goodness on their new album, Trade Secrets. (There’s also a Yaz cover!)
  • UK producer Jesse Wilson — better known as L’Avenue — dropped his new full-length, Club Tropez, juuuuuust under the wire on April 29. (That’s yesterday for those keeping score at home.)
  • French producer F-80‘s new album, Patchwork, has the kind of cover that you just look at and know you’re gonna love. Guess what, that held up here. Plus, it’s all of 1 Euro on Bandcamp so go get it now!

That’ll be all for April! You know the deal from here — check back this time next month for the best in synthwave from May. Until then…

Keep it synthy,
Dan

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