I spend a good chunk of my day investigating leads on Twitter for good music—especially when it comes to Synthwave. It sometimes gets really difficult to wade through the neon-soaked waters. There is just so much Synthwave in my feed that I often rely on other people to point me in the direction of good music with the right vibe. Over the last nine months I kept coming across XENNON’s “Miami Cop.” On a whim, I decided to head on over to Spotify and check it out. It caught me off guard. Completely. I don’t often smile when I listen to music, but “Miami Cop” hit me so hard in all the right places. I’m not ashamed to say that it gave me a lot of joy-joy feelings, which temporarily put a chink in the armor of my permanent resting bitch face.
“Miami Cop” has something that I wish more Synthwave artists had. Vocals. Don’t get me wrong instrumental music can be both powerful and amazing. But I’m a Meat Loaf kind of girl. I fucking love me some vocals. Especially when they are powerful. From the moment I pressed play on “Miami Cop” I INSTANTLY felt a familiar vibe that I haven’t felt in a really long time. “Miami Beach Chase” opens the album with one of THE best vocal performances I have ever heard from a Synthwave producer. I felt like it was channeling the same energy Rush had with 1984’s “Grace Under Pressure.” And while the vocal performance on “Miami Cop” is very similar to the way Geddy Lee sounds, I think that XENNON presents that familiar vibe in a new and exciting way.
“Miami Cop” isn’t what I would call a dark concept album. Instead it elects to present hope as the highest good against the darker nature of what it means to be a human caught up in a world of absolute shit. Sure, all of the Synthwave tropes are here, a rogue cop on the run, corporate corruption, femme fatales, and dark cityscape—but the protagonist of “Miami Cop” makes it very clear that he would be better off getting away from it all. What’s more interesting is that he asks: “Am I any better than all of this?” He’s not so sure. Great art creates narrative tension, and “Miami Cop” accomplishes this in spades.
Overall, it’s producers like XENNON that give me renewed hope for the current state of Synthwave. I think what he’s done with “Miami Cop” is a perfect example of a producer who’s truly passionate about their art. At the time of me writing this, XENNON has only an average of 8,755 monthly listeners on Spotify compared to somebody like Billie Eilish who boasts 44 MILLION. Like—what kind of weird bizarro world do we live where actual artists who write their own music go widely unnoticed? Oh I know! We live in the same world that the protagonist from “Miami Cop” is trying to get away from—one full of bad guys.
Check. This. Album. Out.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone that loves good music. Retrowavers who like their Synthwave with vocals.
Stand-Out Tracks: “Miami Beach Chase,” (aka the best track on the album) “Flashback to Holly,” (vibefest 2019) “The Montage,” (reminds me of Rush a lot, and I love it).
Album Color Profile: #651FFF
You can find all things XENNON at https://xennon.bandcamp.com