Like many, my first exposure to the Canadian synth pop duo Electric Youth was Nicolas Winding Refn’s dark noir film Drive. Besides the film being instrumental in showing the world just what Refn had up his cinematic sleeve(as well as how well Ryan Gosling could act by saying as little as possible), the soundtrack itself started a whole movement of die hard synthwave and synth pop fans. Electric Youth’s “A Real Hero”, which was made in collaboration with David Grellier, aka College, was one of those tracks that just hit you immediately. It made Electric Youth, which consists of Bronwyn Griffin (vocals, songwriter) and Austin Garrick((producer, songwriter, synthesizer, drums) darlings of the synth pop movement.
Unfortunately, I think that wave of accolades got in the way of what Electric Youth wanted to truly be. All the fandom put them into this nostalgia category as opposed to what they really were, which were a top notch electro pop songwriting team. I think finally with their newest LP, the gorgeous and lush Memory Emotion, the team of Griffin and Garrick can finally escape the shadow of Drive and prove they are far more than just purveyors of 80s nostalgia.
Truly, from start to finish Memory Emotion is filled with beautiful production, top notch studio execution, and addictive melodies. “The Life” has the feel of a future anthem with the synth building up a wall of gorgeous melody. Of course Bronwyn Griffin’s vocals are light as air yet carry such emotional depth. Her dream-like vocals are as much a signature of the band’s sound as Garrick’s production prowess. “ARAWA” seems to hit those big pop vibes that Kevin Parker has been chasing for almost a decade now. Pure sonic bliss. “Breathless” is a simple rhythm underscored by a bass line and a beautiful turn of melody once the chorus kicks in. Both a tip of the hat to 80s R&B radio hits and almost jazz inflections put Electric Youth into a whole other category when it comes to pop songcraft.
From one track to the next, Electric Youth capture a certain air of chasing a long lost day in the past. It’s not nostalgia more than it’s trying to capture how we felt on that day. Trying to chase happiness in a single moment, and Electric Youth are soundtracking that chase. It’s melancholic, but a good kind of melancholy. Something like “thirteen”, or the wistful “Through the same Eyes” work into our heads and hearts and live their for as long as we need them to.
8.2 out of 10