March is the longest month of the year. It feels like I’ve been listening to the new Nuovo Testamento record all year long, yet it just came out four weeks ago. Fortunately, it’s a nonstop good time. There was a lot of new music to absorb this month. I hope I did it justice.
Here are my favorite synthpop, futurepop, and darkwave songs of March 2023. If you want to follow my music discovery this year, subscribe to my 2023 playlist on Spotify. New songs are added every Friday. Sort by Date Added to see the new tracks appear at the top of the playlist.
10. BLACKBOOK – “You Are Strange”
This band can do no wrong. Every song slaps. Fresh off their debut album, Confessions of the Innocent, BLACKBOOK already has a new single out called “You Are Strange” that offers more of their trademark cunning lyrics: “You’re strange. So strange. I hope you never change.” Also, this video is a blast.
9. Fever Ray – “Shiver”
“Shiver” is one of the standout tracks from Fever Ray’s delightfully weird third album, Radical Romantics. The sexy-times lyrics (“Some girls will make you shiver”) feel like a continuation of the queer awakening that Fever Ray explored in their second album, Plunge. But in context of the new album’s love theme, it takes on more romantic meaning.
8. Beborn Beton – “Burning Gasoline”
I love a good media sample in a synthpop song, and it doesn’t get any better than this nasty little line from the underrated Netflix show Altered Carbon: “God is dead. We’ve taken his place.” It appears throughout “Burning Gasoline,” one of the standout tracks from Beborn Beton’s ninth album, Darkness Falls Again.
7. Depeche Mode – “People Are Good”
That crunchy industrial beat makes “People Are Good” my favorite cut from Depeche Mode’s much talked about new album, Memento Mori (not counting first single “Ghosts Again,” last month’s number one song). “People Are Good” also scores points for being a cynical successor to one of my favorite DM songs, “People Are People.”
6. unitcode:machine – “Undone”
This electro-industrial thumper is the first new song from rising artist unitcode:machine since his 2021 album Themes for a Collapsing Empire. “Undone” exemplifies the industrial-pop sound with catchy lyrics and pop song structure that doesn’t forego any of its rough textures. There are three wildly different versions of the track, but I’m partial to Aesthetic Perfection’s electrified take.
5. Nuovo Testamento – “In My Dreams”
Every track on Nuovo Testamento’s second album is an Italo disco banger that could light up a dance floor. I’ve already included the fantastic pre-release singles “Heartbeat” and “Heat” in lists past, so picking a favorite from the unreleased tracks is an impossible task. Let’s go with “In My Dreams” for the tom-tom beats straight outta Miami Sound Machine and Chelsey Crowley’s urgent vocal delivery of “I don’t care if you don’t care.”
4. Fonohead – “Another Mile”
Fonohead’s new album, The Captain Reik Diary, is a complete story with a beginning and end. (Read my review.) So taste-testing individual songs seems like it defeats the point. That said, if you only listen to one song from Captain Reik, make it this one. “Another Mile” exemplifies Fonohead’s sublime, sentimental approach to synthpop. But really, check out the whole album.
3. Dead Cool – “Stranger Kind”
North Carolina band Dead Cool cranks up the gloom on “Stranger Kind,” an anthemic celebration of strange folks who dwell in dark places. This hypnotic track fills a dimly lit crevice somewhere between shadowy darkwave and magnificent synthpop—honestly, my favorite place to be.
2. Perpacity – “Ragnarök”
Combining synthpop music with classic mythology is just about the fastest way to get my attention. Perpacity gives the story of Ragnarök a radically different spin than Vanguard did on their 2021 banger, but I love it no less. There’s enough drama here to fill an entire season of Vikings: spoken word bits, zippy synth riffs, an otherworldly chant near the end.
1. Male Tears – “Sleep 4Ever”
I enjoyed “I Expire,” the first single from Male Tears’ forthcoming album, Krypt. But “Sleep 4Ever” is next-level synthpop that pushes all my buttons: sugar-sweet synth riffs, charming af lyrics, that bomb beat. Now I can’t wait to hear the full-length and to see them live at this year’s Absolution Fest.