This album slid right into my private messages and at first glance of the track personnel.. Thunder Porpoise & Straplocked, all three have been featured on NRW. I thought that for sure the album would be called, “TITANS OF INDIE SYNTHWAVE UNITE”. I was disappointed when it wasn’t. Sunset City is just as good of a title, it certainly invokes the true nature of synthwave.
You can purchase the album for.. for.. free?! HOLY SHIT RIGHT HERE: Moonraccoon’s Bandcamp Page
What are we in for? … something amazing.
From the very first track we get a very Gunship-”Technoir” vibe from the monologue provided by Thunder Porpoise. This is a great way to start as this has been my favorite synthwave song of all time and I’m sure that many people giving this a listen will share my sentiments. “Sunset” is a short, but fitting crowd pleaser with all the right sounds from the 16th note side chained bass lines to that analog lead line and plucky arpeggio. The drum selection is that nice crunchy snare almost akin to what we’d find in a Carpenter Brut track.
As mentioned, Straplocked is peppered throughout this album, featured on 5 of the 10 tracks the first of which is “Runaway”. What a delight to hear some organic instruments. This song provides some great dynamics and is a gift to the ears. Runaway is a great doorway as to what comes ahead.
Goosebumps, the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up as I write this and re-listen to the track, “Into the Night” which features the vocal acrobatics of Thunder Porpoise. Almost like an extension to the previous song, this continues the typical aesthetics of synthwave– done extraordinarily well. The bass lines thus far have been nu-disco oriented, very moving that keeps you wanting to bob your head. “Into the Night” reminds me of being in a smoke filled bar at the edge of the city at night where all the castaways from society might end up.
“Stockholm 1986” I wanted to love this track, the mixing and mastering became muddy at times for me to really enjoy it from end to end. I wanted to make out each and every excellently played part but it all mushed together. From what I could hear, it is a beautifully composed track very reminisce of 00’s pop-punk.
With an uplifting shift, we arrive right in time for “Midnight Cruise”. With a gorgeous build, straight to a punch in the gut. Lead lines straight from an 80’s playbook. This is a great tune that really gives you a lot of feelings despite not having vocals. This is the truly what it means for music to take you places that you would never expect.
The feel builds across the next tracks to the crescendo of, in my opinion, the magnus opus of “Margin of Error” where you’ll find yourself in synthesized heaven. It’s a track that stands out with plenty of small technical details that might give you a glimpse into the world that Moonraccoon has built for herself. An evolving and interesting track. This is also the longest track on the release clocking in at 6 minutes and 26 seconds. Usually, this is way too long, however, I wanted it to continue!
We end with the very fitting, “System”. This culminates all of the elements found prior. Everything from the moving nu-disco-esque basslines, the quality lead guitar, the transcendent plucks and that sexy, sexy, Thunder Porpoise voice over.
The influences are all here and this is sure to become a classic in anyone’s collection.
Album Score: A-
Favorite Track: “Into the Night”
Least Favorite: “Stockholm 1986”