The 25 most anticipated synthpop releases of 2022

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Welcome to another exciting year of synthpop music. The world is a shit-show right now, given the ongoing confusion surrounding COVID-19 and its variants, so I really have no idea what to expect this year. Will clubs and concerts make a triumphant return? I sure hope so.

No matter what happens, we have a lot of great music to look forward to this year, including releases from long-time vets and newcomers alike. The 25 potential releases below are an incomplete but impressive sample of the new music I’m tracking for 2022, but every year brings us unexpected surprises we couldn’t anticipate. I can’t wait to discover those, too.

As always, I like to look back at how I did with this story last year. My list of the most anticipated albums of 2021 featured 30 artists, and just 17 of them released albums in 2021. That means nearly half of the artists on last year’s list could finally give us something new this year. By all accounts, it should be a fantastic year for new music.

For those possibilities, take a look back at my previous stories here:

a-ha

Title: True North
Release date: Autumn

The Norwegian trio known for the hits “Take On Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” is one of several legacy bands poised to release new music this year, but a-ha is doing it their own way. The band will perform 12 new songs recorded live in the town of Bodø above the Arctic Circle for a film about the importance of nature in Norway. The music from the film will be made available as a new album from the group for the first time since 2015’s Cast in Steel.

Alice Glass

Title: PREY//IV
Release date: January 28

PREY//IV is the long, long-awaited solo full-length from Alice Glass, former lead singer of noisy electronic provocateurs Crystal Castles. If there’s anyone to root for this year, it’s Alice Glass, given the horrific allegations of abuse she levied against her Crystal Castles bandmate, Ethan Kath. Alice has treated us to a handful of singles since going solo, including “Suffer And Swallow” and “Baby Teeth.”

Beborn Beton

Title: Darkness Falls Again
Release date: TBA

The beloved German synthpop band Beborn Beton will make their long-awaited return in 2022 with new music that should arrive before summer. It’s been nearly seven years since Beborn Beton released their sixth album, A Worthy Compensation, which included the popular track “24/7 Mystery” and the singles “Daisy Cutter” and “She Cried.” The pandemic played some part in the lengthy wait. Frontman Stefan Netschio says they needed face-to-face interaction in the studio to create that symphonic magic the band is known for.

Boy Harsher

Title: The Runner
Release date: January 21

There’s always been something cinematic about Boy Harsher’s sinister, moody soundscapes. Several of their songs could soundtrack scenes from a David Lynch movie. So it’s not that surprising, though still incredibly ambitious, that their next release will serve as an original soundtrack to a short horror film the band is making themselves. The Runner, the movie, is about a mysterious woman running through the woods, and we’ve already heard two tracks from The Runner, the soundtrack. December’s “Give Me a Reason” illustrates their turn from the dancefloor toward scene-setting ambiance, yet retains Boy Harsher’s signature blend of dark vocals and unsettling electronics.

††† (Crosses)

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

The electrorock side-project of Deftones singer Chino Moreno made a big splash at the end of 2021, signing a record deal with Warner Records and releasing a gorgeous cover of beloved goth club staple, Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses.” There’s no official album announcement yet, but the news probably means new music is on the way this year. ††† made their debut in 2011 with the first of three EPs, then released their first full-length album in 2014, but has been mostly silent since.

Current One

Title: TBD
Release date: TBA

Swedish newcomer Current One burst onto synthpop playlists last year with nearly a dozen singles of diverse and playful synthpop. He’s yet to release a full-length, but that could change this year. Markus Enström, the artist behind Current One, recently announced on Facebook that he’s planning his debut album for 2022. We don’t know yet if it will compile his previous singles or feature all-new material, but I would love to hear more tracks like last year’s “Inside of Me,” a dynamic and syrupy synth gem that is his best song so far.

Czarina

Title: Arcana
Release date: February 22

You don’t release three audio-visual sensations like “Atomic: Ad Initivm,” “Wonderland,” and “Medusa” without people taking notice. Multi-talented artist Czarina has seen her star skyrocket during the past year, ramping up anticipation for her second full-length album, which will be called Arcana. She intends the album to be a “multi-sensory project” and plans to release additional visual elements throughout the year, including the next single around the album’s release date. Arcana will be the ultimate representation of everything that makes Czarina so mesmerizing—her love of mythology, the deep respect she has for her adopted home of Galicia, and her stunning ability to incorporate disparate styles from industrial to chamber pop.

Future Lied to Us

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

I won’t lie, I was a tad disappointed to learn that SITD’s Tom Lesczenski left the Future Lied to Us supergroup. Tom has a beautiful singing voice we don’t hear often enough in his primary project (SITD’s “Suffering in Solitude” remains a personal favorite). Nonetheless, the Future Lied to Us lineup remains impressive: producers Krischan Jan-Eric Wesenberg of Rotersand and Vasi Vallis of NamNamBulu and Frozen Plasma are now joined by new vocalist Damasius Venys who recently departed Mondträume. The project revived their social accounts last year with images of the trio at work in the studio, and they tell me that new music will “definitely” be out this year.

Hallowed Hearts

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

One of the biggest news stories of 2021 was the shocking breakup of American synthpop band Iris. I predict a ton of interest in what the two former members of Iris do next. Musician Andrew Sega already has a headstart. His Hallowed Hearts project released their debut album, Into the Fire, in 2020, and Andrew tells me they will be releasing its follow-up sometime this summer. Hallowed Hearts, which includes singer Alex Virlios, features a more darkwave sound with guitars, a direction he hinted at on the final Iris album.

KÅRP

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

Swedish band KÅRP caught my attention at the tail-end of 2021 with a bubbling arp gem called “It Looks Bad” that could be the spiritual successor to The Knife’s classic “Silent Shout.” The song is our first taste of a triptych of EPs coming this year. There’s no specific release date yet, but KÅRP tells me that the EPs are centered around three stages of the apocalypse: Chaos, Silence, and The New World Order.

Kite

Title: Kite VII
Release date: TBA

If you’re not following Kite on Instagram, you might have missed a brief teaser last summer of the band’s next release, which will presumably be an EP called Kite VII (Kite only releases EPs). The Swedish duo is coming off a series of incredible songs recorded in 2020 with music producer Blanck Mass, who added buzzsaw electronics to Kite’s warm, analog sound. My theory is they tapped Blanck Mass to teach them some new tricks, and what we’ve heard so far (including their blissed-out anthem “Hand Out the Drugs,” my number two song of 2020) is just a warm-up for a mindblowing new direction from Kite, arguably the best synthpop band in the world right now.

LEATHERS

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

In 2021, Shannon Hemmett, the icy cool keyboardist and backup singer for post-punk project ACTORS, released a sparkling EP under her solo moniker, LEATHERS. She’s currently at work on the project’s debut full-length, which is being produced by ACTORS frontman and studio whiz Jason Corbett. As LEATHERS, Shannon’s glossy synths and sleek vocals take center stage, resulting in a near-dark, synthpop dreamscape.

mind.in.a.box

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

Will this be the year we finally return to the Dreamweb? According to mind.in.a.box mastermind Stefan Poiss: “It should happen in 2022.” It’s been nearly five long years since Broken Legacies, the sixth installment of his cyberpunk narrative following the tales of enigmatic characters Black and White. In early 2020, we did get a one-off song from miab (that was weirdly co-credited to Stefan’s other project, THYX) called “Television Nation” that may or may not have been narrated by Black himself. We’ll find out when the story continues on album seven.

Null Device

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

In the wake of Iris’s demise last year, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who are the best American synthpop bands. Wisconsin’s Null Device certainly belongs on the list thanks to the harmonious talents of songwriters Eric Oehler and Jill Sheridan and their innovative sound that draws influences from far beyond the electronic music soundscape. We last heard a proper album from the band in 2019—No Line of Sight was my seventh favorite album of the year—though they’ve contributed to a handful of compilations. This year should see new music from the project. Eric tells me, “We’ve got a few songs recorded already, and I’m mixing as fast as I can.”

Priest

Title: Body Machine
Release date: February

I’m feeling a bit possessive of Priest these days. The Swedish synthpop project is picking up tons of press for signing with legendary underground label Cleopatra Records and drawing throngs of new fans who are just now discovering their connection to hard rockers Ghost (members of Priest are former Nameless Ghouls who worked on Ghost’s earliest records). Priest has already made a big splash in the dark synth scene, thanks to two albums and several fantastic singles. They’re about to unveil album three and are rumored to be prepping a U.S. tour. The album’s first single, “A Signal in the Noise,” hints at an edgier, club-friendly sound that moves beyond the calmer, Covid-era sound of second album, Cyberhead. This seems like the year that Priest is going to explode—I’m just happy I was here to witness it all unleash.

Röyksopp

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

We have no idea what’s coming from Norwegian greats, Röyksopp, but it’s all extremely suspenseful. On New Year’s Day, the duo surprise-released a new track called “(Nothing But) Ashes.” Its moody and ambient piano felt more like an interlude than a song, but fans suspect that’s just an intro to their next big move. I’m hoping for a full-length album despite that Röyksopp declared 2014’s The Inevitable End to be their final LP, a fitting farewell.

Soft Cell

Title: *Happiness Not Included
Release date: February 25

The legendary synthpop duo best known for the ’80s hit “Tainted Love” is prepping their first album in 20 years. *Happiness Not Included is about “the dreadful government we have at the moment and the levels of hypocrisy and incompetence,” according to producer Dave Ball, and we’ve already heard a couple of tracks from the album, including the dour “Heart Like Chernobyl” and “Bruises On My Illusions.” But the big news for me is that Soft Cell has enlisted fellow synthpop legends Pet Shop Boys to collaborate on a track together. I can’t wait to hear that one.

Tears for Fears

Title: The Tipping Point
Release date: February 25

Everybody wants to make a comeback. Another ’80s legend, Tears for Fears, will release their first album in 18 years on the same day as Soft Cell’s return. Recording the album wasn’t smooth sailing for Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. The duo reportedly fought over the direction of the music, and The Tipping Point almost didn’t happen. A tragedy, the death of Roland’s wife, brought the pair back together and reignited their creative spark. In October, Tears for Fears released the album’s title track, the lovely and lilting “The Tipping Point.”

T.O.Y.

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

German band T.O.Y. has been working on their next album for several years—in fact, I included them on this list in 2020 based on the strength of their 2019 single “Silent Soldiers,” one of the best synthpop songs that year. The years passed with no new album, yet 2022 is finally the year, at least according to social media posts from the band. They’ve already given us a teaser. In December, T.O.Y. released a somber piano version of a track called “Home” that exemplifies the beautiful melodies and warm vocals we expect from the project.

Unroyal

Title: This Is Louder
Release date: TBA

I had a sneaking suspicion that big things were in store for Swedish synthpop duo Unroyal, my favorite discovery of 2019. They’ve officially signed with influential Swedish label, Progress Productions, who will release their sophomore album this year. Its title, This Is Louder, promises bigger sounds for the band’s charming blend of melancholy and time-honored synths. Unroyal has already released the album’s first two songs, “Victoria Square” and “Tom.”

Vanguard

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

Swedish synth duo Vanguard has a new single called “Move Out” coming January 14. It will be their third since their last album, Manifest, was released in 2019. With three recent singles out, it’s time for a full-length—and they tell me an album is indeed on the way. The duo says they’re hoping to release it in February. If the rest of the album has half as good as their energetic stompers “Ragnarok” and “Inside,” it could be one of the best albums of the year.

White Lies

Title: As I Try Not to Fall Apart
Release date: February 18

Last September, English band White Lies released an incredible single called “As I Try Not to Fall Apart” that basically burned itself into my consciousness. I can’t count the number of music lovers I respect who told me how much they love that track. It turns out that “As I Try Not to Fall Apart” is the title song of White Lies’ sixth studio album, which may see the post-punk trio tread further into a synthpop direction.

White Mansion

Title: TBA
Release date: TBA

It only took one song to put White Mansion near the top of my must-hear list. Last year’s mesmerizing cut, “Cancel the Sky,” contains hypnotizing beats, sinister electronics, and deeply dramatic lyrics that I just can’t get enough of. The Arkansas band is gearing up to release their second album and promises to make an announcement anytime now.

White Noise TV

Title: Every Day Lost
Release date: January 10

I’m new to White Noise TV, a trio comprised of artists from Germany and Switzerland, but everything I’ve heard so far has me excited about their second album, Every Day Lost. They make the kind of thrilling dark synth music reminiscent of peak-era futurepop with club-friendly beats and thoughtful lyrics. Every Day Lost, which should be out now, might just be the first great album of 2022.

X-Marks the Pedwalk

Title: New/End
Release date: TBA

Longtime favorites X-Marks the Pedwalk will release a new album in 2022 that might be called New/End, according to teasers on their social media. It would be the 11th full-length album from the German project, which has undergone a number of changes in its 30+ year career. Their last album, 2020’s Transformation, saw founder Sevren Ni-Arb’s partner Estefania take over lead vocals on many songs, giving the project a strong female polish. I’m excited to hear what’s “new” from X-Marks, but I certainly hope it’s not the “end.”

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