Here are my favorite synthpop, futurepop, and darkwave songs of May 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. Zanias – “Closing”
Alison Lewis’s third album as Zanias has been constantly playing in the background at my home since its release on May 1, the songs noodling their way into my brain. Mid-album cut “Closing” always snags my attention for its mesmerizing vocal shifts and buoyant synth ripples.
9. The Distant Minds – “Simple Life ’83”
British act The Distant Minds says “Simple Life ’83” is a new version of an old track—though I haven’t heard the original. With energetic beats and nostalgic lyrics that are right in my wheelhouse, “Simple Life ’83” is another strong showing from an incredibly underrated act.
8. Julien-K – “Your Tears Mean Nothing”
American electronic rock project Julien-K, one-time members of the band Orgy, returns with a new single called “Your Tears Mean Nothing.” It’s a beast built on a menacing beat with throbbing synth lines and dynamic vocals. Singer Ryan Shuck delivers a spoken word bit on the chorus that really goes for the jugular.
7. APNOIE – “Ivory Tower”
Russian artist APNOIE has been steadily cranking out ethereal singles in the build-up to her debut full-length. Check out February’s playful “Magic Stuff” if you haven’t heard it yet. The album’s title track, “Ivory Tower,” showcases the artists’s command of captivating synth riffs and sensual vocals.
6. PART2 – “When the Dark Night Comes Around”
Synthpop trio PART2 caught my attention in 2021 with a glorious anthem called “Everything Is Here.” They’ve released a handful of tracks since, but they’ve really peaked my interest again with their latest, “When the Dark Night Comes Around.” The song’s opening beat drop kicks this track into serious overdrive.
5. The Mystic Underground – “The Backlash Comes”
New York’s The Mystic Underground wields influences that span decades. Singer Vladimir Valette’s vocals draw comparison to Erasure’s Andy Bell, his storytelling to PSB’s Neil Tennant. On their latest full-length, Everyone Deserves a Stage, musician Benedetto Socci adds urgent sounds from ’90s house music. The album’s standout track, “The Backlash Comes” is a straight-up house banger with a monster hook.
4. Fatigue – “Cold as the Sun”
It’s been two years since Lillian Edith Martin released the debut album of her Fatigue project (you may also know her as Massachusetts DJ Sawtooth). She’s released a handful of singles since then, but “Cold As the Sun” might just be Fatigue’s best. The squishy electronic noises are instantly compelling, and Lillian’s songwriting chops really glisten. Huge points for building a rhyming scheme out of “cacophony” and “monotony.”
3. Devours – “10 Things I Crave About You”
My favorite tracks from Vancouver artist Devours and the tender ballads like “Two Kids” from last album Escape From Planet Devours. He leans heavily in that direction on new album Homecoming Queen and especially on its latest single, “10 Things I Crave About You” (technically released near the end of April, but I missed it). This is an agonizingly beautiful song about heartbreak and longing.
2. KUNT – “Jericho Stand”
Swedish newcomers KUNT open “Jericho Stand” with media samples and shuffling beats yanked out of classic EBM. At about the 45-second mark, the beat drops, the synths swell, and KUNT just rips into an absolutely bloody banger of a song. Singer Paula Lè Boss deftly morphs her vocals from spoken word into fiery punk-rock attitude—just listen to the way her voice lurks when she sings “mind.” “Jericho Stand” does the perfect job of introducing me to a promising new act and making me want more, more, more.
1. Vidéo L’Eclipse – “Almost There”
“Almost There,” the latest from one of the best synthpop bands in the world, opens with ambient tones and the delicate tinkling of keys, then slowly topples into a melancholic wave as Vidéo L’Eclipse introduce additional layers of sound. This is the sound of two master songsmiths at work, crafting emotionally rich and meaningful synthpop. I can’t wait for their second full-length coming this fall.