Returning Home? It’s like you never left, boys.
The Patrick Fakeman blog at PFSynth.com is back after an unexpected hiatus and what a reason to get back in the saddle! New Arcades release their debut album, ‘Returning Home’ this coming Friday, 15th November. Dean and Adam have teamed up with Outland Recordings to lay out an album that is both a nod to the classic synthwave we have all come to know, with a progressive eye on the future.
Take a seat, grab a minute and let me give you an overview…
In The Movies
The opening track starts with a promise of classic new arcades synth-led harmonies and that crisp enveloping sound. Images of flight of the navigator, ET and Night of the Comet come to mind as the track introduces us to the rest of the album to come. Like much of this album, it needs to be played loud and (ideally) in a room of neon. Certainly the strongest 80s sound I’ve heard from a new album in some time. Somehow the boys have managed to keep the ‘traditional’ synthwave sound without it sounding too tired. Those of you who enjoy your rare physical releases might have heard a version of In the Movies as a bonus track on the CD and cassette release of the ‘Nothing is Lost’ EP (there were only 50 cassettes and 100 CDs ever made!). This remastered version is much deeper in mix and is totally refreshed for the occasion. It has certainly found its rightful place as the opener for this impressive album. A sign of the band’s desire to progress their sound and build on their previous works.
Into The Unknown
Where ‘In the movies’ gently brings us into the album, ‘Into The Unknown throws us straight into the strong lyrical presence and guitar riffs that we have become used to with New Arcades. It feels comfortable but again, the track sounds fresh and the harmonies are on point. A strong polished mix really evident on this track.
If Only I Could
The boys’ talent around the diversity of their sound is never more present that with the transition into If only I could and it feels as if the track placement was purposeful to highlight that. A true night driving tune, it invokes images of Mulholland Drive as the sun sets. The higher synth cords bring out that promise of the sunrise that, whilst it will always come, will be all the sweeter for the last third of this track.
It’s time to reminisce about that high school crush that broke your heart! Further brings down the tempo with a heart-breaking track of separation but with a dash of hope. The guitar leads have shades of the Top Gun OST whilst the ever-present synths are reminding us all that this is a New Arcades track with the signature sound. That stamp of authority that runs throughout their work.
Now and Forever
Now and Forever marks the midway point of the track (which was a sad thought given how impressed I’ve been so far). As with a lot of the album, this is a strong vocal track and the harmonies are impressive!
The continuing space theme is strong here with the clinically precise synths under that booming baseline. What came to mind when this track was playing out was just how smart the boys have been to create an album that can be played loud at home, quietly in your headphone or, more interestingly, LIVE. Solace feels like a real live event track that could easily fit into any set and that whole album has that air of consideration for live eventing, which New Arcades have already proven they are the masters of.
Another night is probably the most melodic of all the album’s tracks and a personal favourite. It also signifies the point in the album where every track from this point is an absolute gem.
It’s extremely authentic in its 80s tone and dreamy nostalgic grip on the listener. The vocals are tight and it’s catchy as hell. For me, it accomplishes that holy grail of synthwave vocal tracks. You can’t help but be 100% sure you heard this track years ago, in school, in college. It’s the music of the past that never existed… Until now.
Clean Break’s baseline is the first thing that stands out. Shades of Brad Freidel and Harold Faltermeyer exist below the melancholic tones of synth and vocal of this romantic track. Close your eyes and it’s the tune playing to the midway character arc in a John Hughes movie.
All I see
The boys throw caution to the wind with All I See and give us a thoughtful track with shades of 30 Seconds to Mars a-la ‘This is War’ with its baseline and harmonies. It’s deep and drenched in feels.
The final track of the album brings Returning Home as a tonally perfect outro to the processing 9 tracks. As it plays the imagery of the entire album comes through. The cinematic set piece soundtrack is never more present and as the tracks fades and the radio signal dies, we are left with nothing but the thought of how well produced and fantastically paced this album is.
Overall, New Arcades debut full length album is a quality product that is rich in fresh, progressive sounds in a market that is dominated most recently with some mediocre content. It’s refreshing to have a product that is not only carries their distinctive sound, but offers something new to the scene for both at home and live consumption. We’ve waited a long time for the boys to release a full album and it feels like a strong statement. Dean and Adam have been in the scene for a long time and that experience and knowledge of the sound is clear and evident. Where some of the newer artists are clearly inspired by some of the OG’s of the UK scene, New Arcades ARE amongst some of the OG’s of the UK scene. That original electronic 80s era sound feels evident.
The album is actually quite complex and whilst the influences and memories that it invokes for me are numerous, it’s packaged tightly and knows what it wants to be.
The audio engineering is top notch and it really plays through the entire 10 tracks. The scene is really making steps with how artists engineer and master their work and Pete Maher has done a smashing job here to continue the standard that New Arcades have always stood for. Work that, in my opinion, has always been ahead of the game. The very fact that the progressive sound also invokes memories of movies and OST’s is a testament to the balance the album delivers and i’m excited to see some of these tracks in a live setting.
Get it in your ears this Friday and start the weekend off in the right way.
Now you’ll have to excuse me, I need to return some videotapes…