It was a year ago, almost to the day, that we reviewed Pittsburgh SynthWaver Arcade High’s début début album The Art Of Youth. We’re not sure if that’s a coincidence but this week, via the medium of label Telefuture, Ryan Boosel has unleashed his latest long player, titled Pixel Passion. Coming digital and physical formats (with the limited edition CD coming in a fancy, hand-crafted case mode from repurposed Nintendo cartridges) in packages that include treasures such as glossy posters and badges., Arcade High has really pulled the stops out for this release.
So, to the album. We really enjoyed his first outing, and especially his material with vocals, which luckily there is a few lurking about on Pixel Passion. In the last year or so Arcade High have risen to the top of the SynthWave pack, and that’s partly due to his originality. Rather than playing the same old Italo basslines and pseudo-80s tropes, Arcade High carves out a sound all of his own. Rolling ChipTune (in abundance), IndiePop and SynthPop into the SynthWave mix to create something instantly recognisable. As soon as the albums opening, title track launces into it’s retro synth/8-bit mixture, with frantic bitcrushed bass, gentle vocals and soaring vintage console leads, you know what you;re in for with the rest of the album. As the record moves onto One Year Ago you’re treated to how well Arcade High uses these influences. Where as the ChipTune crowd are content with recreating video game music of old, Arcade High takes those sounds and weaves them into beautiful, emotional, ElectroPop songs that take full advantage if the unique character of that sound pallet. But never lets the sounds control the songs, it’s always songs first. Without You, the Hannah Edwards featuring album centrepiece, is an epic, rousing slice of ElectroPop euphoria which a cool Indie vibe running through it, which leads into Outrun This! which seems to lean more toward the arcade cabinet than the genre. Running To You bring us back to more familiar SynthWave territory until Ryan busts in with some sweet vocoded vocals to deliver one of the albums highlights alongside the brooding, cinematic Electro of Night Of The Genesis. If you love the SynthWave sound, but are becoming a little burnt out on it and crave the same atmosphere but with a little originality injected into it, or if you love ElectroPop and have a fondness for 80s video games, or if you just love electronic music, well crafted with love, then you should definitely take this album out a spin.
♫ Arcade High (Feat. Hannah Edwards) – Without You
♫ Arcade High – Running To You
Arcade High’s Pixel Passion is out now via Telefuture.
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