Sydney Banta is L.A. Girlfriend, the solo synth-pop act out of–yeah, you guessed it–Los Angeles. Banta grew up listening to bands likes New Order and Iron Maiden, and today her own music reflects that ’80s counterculture sound. The singer-songwriter appropriates their dark waves and adds her accessible, youthful zeal in a style she calls Romantic Noveau. Banta’s latest record Neon Grey riffs on that new romantic theme.
“Neon Grey is different from my prior releases because it’s about an internal process compared to an external one,” she explained in a press release. “My previous LP VIVA was about being reactionary to people, places, and time, but Neon Grey, in a way, is VIVA‘s introspective counterpart; a story of consequences, documenting an aftermath of emotions.”
The now-nostalgic trappings of new wave and ’80s metal are present throughout the LP. Banta weaves trenchant synths, propulsive drum tracks, and a traditional house beat into arrangements that are nearly as heavy as her ’80s forebears.
Fittingly, Neon Grey opens with a track titled, “Welcome to the Abyss.” An undulating synth provides a backdrop for Banta’s voice, layered and re-layered over itself in haunting concert. “Be still, lonely heart,” she croons in introduction to the “aftermath of emotions” that follows.
The record picks up from there, but it remains heavy and emotive like the New Orders that came before her. She contemporizes her sounds, though, by combining the analog with the digital. Clean bass-lines run deep through Neon Grey, supporting the electric buzz that permeates each song, and her vocal, thick with reverb, soars bright above the dark instrumentations. Toss in upbeat tempos and it’s clear that Banta has more pop sensibilities than the post-punkers she grew up with.
In short, Neon Grey is a soundtrack for lonely lovers that want to dance out the darkness. Give it a spin:
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