Dynamite Stranger – Synth Ranger (2020)

Upon first examination, Dynamite Stranger’s “Synth Ranger” is branded to appeal to the Synthwave crowd. Visually speaking, “Synth Ranger” looks the part. The album’s cover art features an image of a lone spacewalker that reminds me of of Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” I can’t decide whether the spacewalker is screaming out in pain or rocking out to some ill tunes. I mean, he’s on his knees, so he’s probably in distress, but he also could be knee sliding in excitement. In any case, I quite enjoy the artwork. It has a sharp cinematic look to it that is almost Giger-like.

It’s clear to me that a lot of work went into this album, and I think it’s something Dynamite Stranger should be proud of. There are some banging tunes on “Synth Ranger.” “Fast Forward” is a nice track that has a Daft Punk sort of approach to it. I think that really fits in with the sci-fi aesthetic of the album. “Rewind” is also great. It is the only track to feature vocals (by the wonderful Nightmares and Neon). I really have to applaud Dynamite Stranger for the vocal processing on “Rewind.” To me, it stands out as a distinctive high point on the album. Its fun, somewhat retro underpinnings are downright catchy. The lyrics are well written too. I wish “Synth Ranger” had more tracks like it.

Musically, “Synth Ranger” sounds like has more in common with postmodern future music than it does with the dreamy sonic sound of yesteryear. There is a regimented, albeit triangular quality to the sound of this album. I think that this works to its advantage on tracks like “Xero,” and “Into the Void,” which use space and bright portamento-infused leads to add focus to the music. In general though, this album is somewhat cold. This is mainly due to how clean it is. Like—it almost feels like Dynamite Stranger literally worked in the same cold space depicted on the album cover—suit and all. That said, there is a “no one can hear you scream in space” type of attitude about “Synth Ranger” that gives the album a certain flair.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave folks looking for something a little different. I think that fans of futuristic sounding music will like this too.

Stand-out tracks: “Into the Void,” “Fast Forward,” and “Rewind,” and “Xero”

Album Color Profile: #2874A6

You can find all things Dynamite Stranger at: https://dynamitestranger.bandcamp.com/

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