Tag Archives: synthwave

Dead Hearts: A New-wave Masterpiece from Nouveau Arcade ?

Strap yourselves in guys, this is about to get weird and long! Seattle’s own Nouveau Arcade are set to release their debut album in a couple of days, and it’s a fascinating combination of genres. From synthwave to pop-rock to industrial/goth, they combine together an interesting blend of sounds. I couldn’t wait to dive into the duo’s music, so let’s do it together!

Opening on single, ‘Static Eyes’, the album leaves a fantastic first impression. Somehow it combines all of the aforementioned sounds together effortlessly. An 80s inspired synth-pop, vocals that remind me of Billy Idol, Jarvis Cocker and Peter Steele at times, and a big guitar riff for the chorus that brings in the rock perfectly. However, having said all of that, it also still feels modern, even futuristic. The chorus is pretty catchy and I can see this all being so good live if it sounds close to the track. An awesome way to open the album and easily a highlight!

Surprisingly not one of the 13 tracks released prior to the album, ‘iHumanz’ is another interesting one. Turning up the synthy, futuristic cyberpunk feel to the max, it fits the topic Nouveau Arcade explore perfectly. The mixing and production on all of it is phenomenal, too. Everything is heard perfectly in the mix and it helps the track really take the listener on a journey. The track’s plodding pace and catchy vocals combine to make something truly epic. And we even get a pretty heavy breakdown and a harsh vocal which I was not expecting at all! Another massive highlight of the album and a track that definitely makes the playlist!

(Surprisingly enough) another single, though one of their earlier ones this time, ‘Crazy Like That’ feels a tad on the safe side compared to the other two previous. It’s not a bad track at all, but it’s very much a modern pop track in the same vein as The Weeknd or Twenty One Pilots. The melody is fun and as a whole it’s a hooky earworm for sure. It fits in well with the last TOP album, which makes sense given that they were released in the same year. If you’re into the lighter side of this company, you’ll love this!

Next up is the band’s debut single, ‘Summer is Over’. Much like the previous track, it is very modern and pop heavy. However, it does have a rather 80s edge to it too that definitely kept me more interested. It does feel like the most simple track so far, though. There isn’t quite the huge, arena-filling chorus in this one as much as the others. However, it’s still a very fun track!

‘Die on Me Now’ changes things up in the best way, just as I was starting to get a tad restless. It’s a heavier, goth rock track, closer to that of Sisters of Mercy or even the lighter Birthday Massacre stuff. It completely changed the pace and tone of the album and did so beautifully. The simple guitar chords make everything sound MASSIVE and the vocals are infectiously catchy for the chorus. Everything about this was awesome and a huge highlight. Playlisted!

‘Only Happy When it Rains’ somehow feels like a blend of everything that has preceded it. From the heavy synth-focus to the big, heavy guitar chords to the low, Type O vocals, it had me interested throughout. Honestly, I got heavy Nine Inch Nails vibes throughout, which was honestly great. It definitely has the feel of something Trent Reznor would write for a movie. Everything about this was amazing and it’s yet another highlight from the album. I’m becoming a little obsessed with this band already…

I have to admit, ‘Jukebox Cake’, ‘Fluorescent’, ‘Neon Love Machine’ and ‘Hard Times’ didn’t hook and reel me in much. None of them are bad, but go back to the heavy 80s/modern day synth pop that we got a fair bit of already. There is definitely elements of soft rock and goth spread throughout them too, but none of it stands out enough from them to speak of individually. Still, they are good songs and fit the album well!

‘Apart’ and ‘Drawing Pictures’ are similar to each other in that they both have guest vocalists throughout. Both are fun synthy tracks that have very different feels from each other. The former, featuring simply Cordelia, is a slower, much more gothy number. Meanwhile the latter, featuring Keira Verlee, is a more upbeat, almost 90s club anthem track. That chorus is massive and great. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think either will make my regular rotation on their own, but they are interesting tracks that add even more depth and style to the album.

Speaking of Twenty One Pilots from earlier, here is a cover of their 2018 hit ‘Jumpsuit’. Honestly, it’s great. Nouveau Arcade manage to heavy the track up in a way I wish the original creators could still make in this day and age. I think the guest spot of Pendulum’s incredible drummer KJ Sawka helps it along that way quite a lot; this does very much feel like Pendulum meets Twenty One Pilots in the best way. If anyone is a fan of the original band, check this out, it’s definitely an interesting take that feels just as much Nouveau Arcade than anything else. Amazing stuff!

Another track that features KJ is ‘Run Boy Run’. It’s another heavier track that is enhanced amazingly by the drums. It also has a surprisingly great riff in it at times. It’s the closest to an all out rock song. It almost has a fun dubstep element throughout, especially in the breakdowns. Between that and a heavier guitars and vocals, it really reminds me of something Korn would have put on their Path of Totality album. The scream and breakdown boarder on metal, or at very least the heavier side of Pendulum. I loved everything about this, and it’s another that easily makes the playlist!

The final two tracks are a fun, interesting way to close things out. ‘Choose Your Fighter’ is a straight up EDP club track. Meanwhile ‘Stronger Now’ is like BMTH or Sleep Token without that one big riff or part that makes them still metal. Still, there’s some fun guitar riffs in it and some more great dubstep. It’s a surprisingly good, massive way to close out the album, too!

Overall: This was a really good album. It isn’t usually what we cover for the most part, and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. That and because it’s a fantastic album overall. There are so many great tracks throughout. My only slight issue is that it may be a little too long. At 16-tracks and over an hour in length it’s a big listen. However, it’s all so well put together and dynamic throughout that I barely felt the length at all. It crosses genres seamlessly while still maintaining a feeling of Nouveau Arcade. I’d recommend this album to anyone, there’s something in it for everyone. Go check it out!

The Score: 9/10