A side project for the multi-genre producer/artist Blue Stahli (aka Bret Autrey), Sunset Neon is focused on synthwave, with a retro-futuristic, melodic sound that’s a great example of why the genre is currently so popular.
It’s the perfect summer album; deliberately cheesy, witty lyrics and compelling hooks, shimmering synths and propulsive 80s-style guitar solos all feature. It’s glorious.
Though the album was released back in 2017, Sunset Neon’s music escaped my notice entirely until recently – it’s thanks to the superb rhythm action VR title Synth Riders that I was introduced to two of their tracks: the beautifully melodic, instrumental synth of Lazer Pink and the uptempo, guitar-led pop of Tonight – which sounds as if it’s been plucked from a forgotten 80s action movie training montage.
The tone of the lyrics are set early on, with Get You featuring the instant classic: ‘Like Thunderdome/You can’t Tina Turn-it away’.
Never Dance Again, though it feels suitably 80s, veers a little too far into cheese territory – albeit with a seriously dark narrative that’s easy to overlook – and a cover of Prince classic Kiss, though it’s not bad per se, just feels inessential and doesn’t distinguish itself enough from the original to justify its existence.
Aside from those few minor quibbles, it’s a really strong album and it’s rapidly become the sound of the summer for me. Though a mullet is optional, it wouldn’t feel out of place while listening to this collection of genuinely enjoyable, faux-80s synthwave tracks.
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