The latest from Sweden’s Alone 1980 isn’t short on dread and Gothic doom. It seems to dig into the macabre and things that go bump in the night in a visceral and melancholy way. Given what we saw in the US just last week in the nation’s capital, I think this is the soundtrack we all need to hear right now.
Night Lights was released on December 4th, just a little over a month before the violence and treasonous attempted coup that took place on January 6th in Washington, DC. As I sit and sink into Night Lights it feels like the perfect soundtrack to reflect on a world seemingly gone mad.
I’ve been a fan of Alone 1980 ever since I first heard Sleepwalker back in 2018. Each album is consistently good, with touches of light within the darkness. The imagined soundtrack is a tricky thing. You can get pretty same-y pretty quickly if you’re not good at the nuances of creating mood and feeding that emotional center that connects with the listener. Alone 1980 knows how to connect to us. And on his latest Night Lights the full spectrum is locked into; from fear to dread to anxiety to a sort of sweet surrender where we let go and just let the album envelope us.
The album cover gives off a psychedelic feel, and the music reflects that as well. It’s still plenty of the heavy synth we’ve come to know and love with an Alone 1980 album, but there seems to be a hazy vibe as well. Like dropping acid before a Hammer Films marathon, or having a glass of Absinthe and walking thru a dark forest path. “The Alchemist” brings to mind the great Slasher Film Festival Strategy, but quickly evolves into something resembling Walter Rizzati and John Carpenter. The organ here drops us into a sort of baroque electronic hymn of the highest order. “Wicked City” is a cross between Escape From New York and Maniac, but with Alone 1980s sonic twist.
Elsewhere, “Dead Star” floats along on a cloud of ethereal tones and sonic escapism. It feels like a pleasant mirage amongst the darkness. “Transylmaniac” has a seedy feel to it, like grimy city streets on a Saturday night and a walk home that’s a block or two too long. Title track “Night Lights” pulsates with an anticipation and decimation of the senses, working towards some kind of ultimate doom.
The world of Alone 1980 is a mysterious and darkly gorgeous one. Night Lights is a soundtrack to a psychedelic nightmare. And an album to listen to as you reflect on the real nightmares right outside the door. It’s another stunner of a record.
8.2 out of 10
Night Lights is available now. Buy it here.