The 10 best synthpop songs of March 2024

Counting down my favorite synthpop, futurepop, and darkwave songs of the month.

Here are my favorite songs of the month in synthpop, futurepop, darkwave, and adjacent genres. If you want to follow my music discovery this year, subscribe to my 2024 playlist on Spotify. New songs are added every Friday. Sort by “Date Added” to see new tracks appear at the top of the playlist.

10. BLACKBOOK – “Normal”

BLACKBOOK is a remarkably consistent band that releases a new thriller every couple of months. They’re at their best when the lyrics take playful subterfuge. “Normal,” which serves as a companion of sorts to last year’s “You Are Strange,” asks the age-old question: “How does it feel to be normal?” Then quickly bites back: “Do you feel anything at all?”

9. MORE – “Shotgun to the Head”

Swedish synthpop trio MORE continue moving in a darker direction, never moreso than on latest single “Shotgun to the Head.” There’s even a startling gunfire sample. But what really makes this track stand out is the rubbery synth riff that adds an unexpected head-bopping groove.

8. CUT_ – “Lick Your Face”

I’m brand new to Dutch duo CUT_. In fact, I’m not even sure if they go by “cut underscore” or just “cut.” Maybe they’ll tell us. In any case, my introduction to the band is the mesmerizing “Lick Your Face,” which feels like two distinct songs seamlessly melded together. Its beguiling verses frolic deep in Fever Ray territory, then give way to an explosive Eurodance chorus.

7. Black Nail Cabaret – “Teach Me How to Techno”

Hungarian dark synthpop duo Black Nail Cabaret take a more experimental and at times chaotic route on new album Chrysanthemum. So including a track like “Teach Me How to Techno” makes it more than just a song—it feels like the album’s mission statement. Singer Emese Arvai-Illes sounds as lovely as ever, but this one belongs to composer Krisztian Arvai, whose cavernous bass and buzzing electronics live up to the song’s title.

6. CZARINA – “Exeskeleto”

CZARINA marks the start of a new album cycle with her first original, solo material since 2022’s Arcana, my album of the year. “Exoskeleto” gives us everything we want from CZARINA: mythology, massive beats, the otherworldly chants that have become one of her unique trademarks. As always, she conjures power. I struggle to type “Exoskeleto” every time—imagine trying to sing it! Somehow she pulls it off with effortless poise.

5. Project Pitchfork – “Unity”

Dark electro titans Project Pitchfork are unexpectedly maudlin on “Unity,” easily the best cut from their long-awaited album, Elysium. The club-ready track finds Peter Spilles bellowing about dark clouds and black coats, a love letter of sorts to the dark scene. On the chorus, he aims straight for the heart: “It’s time to live, no time to die, it’s time to be with the love of my life.”

4. Cold Cave – “She Reigns Down”

In 2021, Los Angeles darkwavers Cold Cave released a mini album called Fate in Seven Lessons that took the project into lighter territory. Their infectious new single “She Reigns Down” somewhat bucks that trend with shadowy lyrics and Sisters of Mercy gloom. Wesley Eisold drenches his baritone in echoey reverb, which makes it sound like he’s singing from the depths of hell.

3. Optic – “Dead for Real”

“Dead for Real,” the second single this year from Swedish duo Optic, is the kind of soaring synthpop anthem I devour. The ecstatic blast of trancy electronics and euphoric vocals offers a sharp reminder that peak-era futurepop has plenty of gas left in the tank.

2. Vidéo L’Eclipse feat. e:lect – “Let It Begin”

The race for album of the year starts here. Literally. “Let It Begin” opens the majestic sophomore album from Sweden’s Vidéo L’Eclipse. Composer Robert Tingelöf transports listeners with Cold War blips and bleeps. Meanwhile, vocalist Jonas Peterson wraps us in his rich, welcoming rumble, though he pulls off a delightfully higher tone on the chorus and gets a backing assist from Swedish compatriots, e:lect.

1. ACTORS – “In Real Life”

Vancouver quartet ACTORS typically lead with Jason Corbett’s churning guitar, though there are just enough synths in play that I can kinda sorta claim them as a synthpop act. (To be honest, I could give two shits about genre gatekeeping.) New single “In Real Life” demolishes that pretense with an overall vibe that sounds more synth and beat driven. The guitars still chug through the mix, but there’s an electronic sheen that feels like a new evolution for the band. I can’t get enough of the amazing little synth whistle that punctuates every couple of bars.

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