NINA (ft LAU) - 'SYNTHIAN' | Album Review
Just as I’m about to pen this review the Sun comes streaming through my windows and satiates the room. It almost acts as a metaphor for the album itself and I can’t help but smile!
‘SYNTHIAN’, the 2nd full album feels somewhat grown up with its bold impactful melodies but still unquestionably Nina and at its heart the soundtrack to a true Synthian’s life.
This lady’s neon footprint on the Synthwave scene is undoubted. Known worldwide, Nina grew up in Berlin where she still spends some time. Some of her earliest influences include Depeche Mode & New Order and she counts Kavinsky as one of her fans no less. Her achievements already as an artist are quite formidable which have earned her the title from her fans ‘Queen of Synthwave’ and well deserved too!
From her early single ‘My Mistake’ which caught the attention of Mercedes Benz for use on their TV & Cinema advertisements to supporting 80’s Superstars Erasure and her tours throughout Europe and the United States she shows no signs of slowing down and showing us her truth of which this particular album 'Synthian' is testament.
The album opens with the title track ‘Synthian’. The song unfolds in your senses and you feel like you’ve opened up the windows to a beautiful neon universe. It’s undoubtedly cinematic and lyrically well crafted. It’s engaging and thoughtful and made all the more absorbing when you realise that the track itself its somewhat a love note to her fans for being so loyal & supportive in her journey. She’s had this nickname for her fans for quite a while and I couldn’t think of a better opener to a long-awaited 2nd album release.
Skipping behind it we have ‘Automatic Call’, track number 2. I’ve heard this track played live and its always a favourite amongst the crowds for sure. Its unashamedly upbeat but the lyrics belie something a little more than melancholy, it’s plays out like a relationship that at its heart is nearing its Winter and delivered as only Nina knows how. The juxtaposition between the upbeat sounds and the disconsolate lyrics is not lost on me, we’ve all lost a love at some point so like ‘One of us’ from her previous album release ‘Sleepwalking’ it resonates.
The next track ‘Runaway’ sucks you into an 80's maelstrom of synths and I’m here for it. It spins and glides its way around your senses and it’s a sunnier, happier track that you can’t help but dance to!
Track 4 is ‘Unnoticed’ and lyrically packs a punch. Again, it airs on vibes and starts ethereally but when those drums kick in, you’re getting out of your seat. Lyrically as stated it packs a punch and you can sense the longing in the vocal. It tells a story and often they are some of my most favourite Synthwave songs especially ones you can connect too!
'The Calm before the Storm' is up next and much like Automatic Call I’ve had the particular fortune of hearing this played live on a few occasions in various dark event spaces throughout the world and its simply one of best vocal & instrumental efforts I’ve heard in quite some time. The track, much like the sea ebbs and flows. It draws you in and perfectly surrounds you. I surrender…….
'The Wire', which is the next song up offers the listener another level. It’s darker, grittier and such a surprise. It’s one of those quintessential driving songs…you know the ones. You flirt with the speed-o-meter, your foot gets a little heavier with the Windows down with the wind rushing through your hair and blowing away every negative feeling you have gathered that day. This track has smashed any thought I had about making one of the previous tracks heard on this album as a favourite because I love the darker vibe sound and this has it in spades. A beautiful conflict for a reviewer!
‘Love is blind’ is a welcome track. It visits you like a cool breeze on a sunny day. It’s slower and more paced than the tracks that have preceded it but still offers the listener those punchy synths that have been a common denominator of all the tracks heard thus far.
The next 3 tracks which finish the album out are just as engaging. ‘Never Enough’ is hauntingly beautiful. Lyrically it lays bare real love and what it feels to be there in that moment when you truly know. It also offers the Sax we Synthians adore which stitches this track together beautifully.
The album finishes on a very poignant note with a track called ‘The Distance’. At its heart it’s about how love can span miles and how a long-distance relationship can work when true love is all that matters. Right now, it's especially poignant in these tough times when there are people who have not seen their loved ones for quite a while and it hurts. The track traverses sonic scapes and instrumentally reaches out to you, to everyone who feels alone. There’s hope, there’s always hope.
Fav Track: The Wire & Automatic Call
Least Fav: N/A
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