Here are my favorite synthpop, futurepop, and darkwave songs of September 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 new tracks appear at the top of the playlist.
10. Hatif – “Heredity”
The mark of a good opening line is that it lives rent-free in your mind. “It was heredity all along” does just that. Swedish duo Hatif makes this opener so memorable with bold delivery and gloomy electronics. The song, which arrives one year after their debut album, is about the passing of genetic information and other things beyond our control.
9. Dead Lights – “Let the Ugly Out”
Dead Lights has dropped four singles this year in the run-up to their new album, Glitterspit. All four of them are absolute bangers that suggest Glitterspit might be one of the best albums of the year. “Let the Ugly Out” trades in the type of sinister beats and slinky sounds we’ve come to love from the duo, while offering a mantra for unleashing your grisly side.
8. Pale Meridians – “Against the Tide”
One of my favorite new synthpop bands is Pale Meridians, a feat largely built on their unexpected yet spectacular cover of the KISS classic, “I Was Made for Loving You.” On their first original track since covering KISS, “Against the Tide,” they demonstrate a knack for creating strong melodies and sharp hooks. This is a band to watch.
7. The Mobile Homes – “In Memoriam No One”
Earlier this year, the long-running Swedish act The Mobile Homes released a powerhouse single called “Throne” that features Nitzer Ebb’s Bon Harris delivering an incisive chorus. The remaining songs on their new album Tristesse don’t have the sheer power of “Throne,” but The Mobile Homes know how to craft subtle hooks that worm their way into your brain. “In Memoriam No One,” another melancholic gem, sticks in my head the most.
6. System Syn – “Goodbye Fellow Traveler”
Kill the Light is a superbly crafted collection of songs that’s one of the best albums of the year. That’s largely because Clint Carney, the man behind System Syn, knows how to compose a wide variety of sounds and song structures. “Goodbye Fellow Traveler” offers a buoyant, orderly counterpoint to the sinister chaos of first single “Ashes in the Wind.”
5. mind.in.a.box – “Drowning in the Fire”
The new mind.in.a.box album continues a cyberpunk storyline that began way back in 2004 on first album Lost Alone. A whole lot of action happens on Black and White, but I’ve long argued that the best miab songs are the ones that stray from the main storyline to convey the characters’ emotional reckoning. “Drowning in the Fire” does just that with compelling, well-crafted lyrics about “the age of Arcadia” and a fire chorus.
4. Missing in Stars – “The Tides”
Dan Guenther, the man behind Missing in Stars, has a rich, resonant voice that sounds more like an alternative rocker than the extremely polished voices we hear in most modern synthpop. His voice rumbles across the flittering electronics on songs like “The Tides,” a catchy-as-hell tune from his sophomore album, Perfusing the Circuit.
3. Uncarnate – “Oceans”
It’s been nearly two years since we last heard from Poland’s Uncarnate. They aim straight for dark dancefloors on their new release, a double-sided single that also includes a track called “Dead Dancers.” You can’t go wrong with either song, but “Oceans” particularly thrills with throbbing beats, electronic pulses, and cavernous vocals that cut through the fog and flickering lights.
2. Séance – “Carnivore”
The new album from Switzerland’s Séance is aptly named. Dark Flow’s songs are built on dark, rippling body music, but they deliver sorta spoken-word vocals with the rhythmic flow of the best hip-hop emcees. “Carnivore,” the album’s closer and one of its standout tracks, finds the duo in grisly territory with lyrics about packs of animals, prey, and torn flesh.
1. Die Sexual – “Bound, I Rise”
Now that’s how you make an introduction. Los Angeles-based duo Die Sexual comes out of the gate swinging with a seductive, fire-powered single called “Bound, I Rise” that could soundtrack your local sex club. This new project is comprised of Black Light Odyssey’s Anton Floriano with vocals from his spouse Rosselinni. Much more of this please.