Disclosure: The ‘80s Guy is owned by synthwave record label FiXT Neon.
2019 was one of the best years in synthwave’s history, with everything from throwback pop anthems to brutal darksynth providing a platter of retro synth goodies for fans to enjoy. It’s impossible to pack all the great artists from this year into a single list, though these 10 stood out for the remarkable new music they released during the year.
The always-talented and always-prolific DEADLIFE dropped not one, but two full-length albums in 2019. (On the same day, no less!) Singularity leans towards a darker cyberpunk sound while Rebel Nights dives into a more relaxed, chill synthwave style. Both albums have their share of great songs, and they show just how diverse and unique DEADLIFE continues to be.
9. Magdalena Bay
After quietly releasing a series of singles through 2017 and 2018, Magdalena Bay stepped up their productivity this year along with their songwriting and production chops. The result is irresistibly catchy tracks like “Money Lover,” “Killshot,” and “Oh Hell.” The duo has shown their willingness to try something new on each new release, making them one of the most exciting pop-flavored synthwave artists of 2019.
8. Signal Void
Dark synthwave with cyberpunk themes was a rich vein of music for fans to tap into in 2019, and Signal Void left a unique mark on the style with a phenomenal new album, This Liminal Reality. Contrasting sinister atmosphere with beautiful melodies, Signal Void has quickly become one of the most compelling creators working on synthwave’s dark side.
WOLFCLUB has been busy recently, cranking out three full-length albums in the last two years. This year’s Frontiers delivered more of the group’s colorful pop sounds with bright melodies and addictive chorus hooks, and the results are hard to argue with. For party-friendly pop synthwave, it doesn’t get any better than WOLFCLUB.
6. Ollie Wride
Ollie Wride was seemingly everywhere this year, from his new “Bend and Break” track with FM-84 to his full-length solo album Thanks in Advance to a number of notable co-writes with artists including Michael Oakley and Jessie Frye. Fans may have to hold out for another FM-84 album, though in the meantime, expect Ollie Wride to turn up on plenty of new pop synthwave tracks.
5. Fury Weekend
Fury Weekend has been gaining momentum for a couple years now, though the artist’s new full-length album, Escape From Neon City, marks a new creative peak. The energetic songwriting and remarkable blend of influences are more exciting than ever, and a series of quality vocal collaborations from artists including PRIZM, Scandroid, and Megan McDuffee helped drive the artist’s popularity to a new level in 2019.
4. Michael Oakley
Retro pop perfection landed this year on Michael Oakley’s diverse and polished new album, Introspect. In contrast with a significant number of synthwave albums, no two songs on Oakley’s recording are alike, and the album’s big variety offers something for retro synth fans of all stripes. From the serious tone of “Control” to the epic ballad with Dana Jean Phoenix on “Now I’m Alive,” Introspect is full of happy surprises.
It wouldn’t be a year in synthwave without a great new album from Scandroid. Following last year’s The Darkness comes this year’s companion recording, The Light. Never content to rest on established ideas, Scandroid incorporated elements of post-punk, darkwave, and chillwave music into his repertoire for a sound that continues to impress and forge new creative territory for the synthwave genre.
There’s nothing like the feeling of a new full-length Waveshaper album. 2019 gifted us with Artifact, arguably the artist’s best album to date, as well as a brand new single late in the year for an added bonus. Fans of old school, instrumental synthwave have to be happy that Waveshaper continues to produce new music on a regular basis.
It’s hard to believe PRIZM released their first songs in early 2019, as the group’s monumental talent has already made them feel huge within the genre. In addition to a slew of great original tracks including the irresistible “All Night,” PRIZM paid homage to synthwave legends on “Midnight FM” and remixed Scandroid’s “Writing’s On The Wall” while helping to raise the bar for quality across the board. If PRIZM has had this much success in less than 12 months, there’s no telling where they’ll be a year from now.