Manhatten is a synthwave producer from the UK who’s main purpose is to evoke feels within his listeners. His debut album “Blue Sky Girl” was released at the end of May by Future 80’s Records.
“Blue Sky Girl” is a concept album that focuses on “that one person in everyone’s life who seems to burn twice as bright, but for half as long.” It’s left entirely up to the listener to decide exactly who this person represents in their life. I really like when artists do this sort of thing. Ambiguity can serve as a powerful tool to help personalize an artistic piece to fit the experiences of an individual viewer/listener. I think in order to fully appreciate what Manhatten is doing with this album it’s important to play along with this. So before you listen to “Blue Sky Girl” do yourself a favor and figure out who this person is for you. Because contextually, it will make the album mean something different for everyone.
Musically, Manhatten has the same sort of vibe that Siamese Youth brought with “Electric Dreams.” The main difference is that “Blue Sky Girl” is primarily instrumental, with a few short narrations by Star Madman. Production wise, Manhatten seems to have a solid grasp on his process. I listened to “Blue Sky Girl” with headphones, and also on my stereo. And while it doesn’t sound 100% old school, I think that it does a great job capturing the right vibe with a careful selection of sounds that are undeniably nostalgic. The low end on this album is audible albeit calm, and the higher frequencies aren’t crowded with too many things trying to compete with one another. There’s also a really nice soundscape element to this album that borrows a lot from the Vaporwave and his little sister Dreamwave.
The overall flow of “Blue Sky Girl” feels like a telephone conversation between two people who either want to or already intimately know one another. And while I do tend to think that Manhatten intended his version of the “Blue Sky Girl” to be somebody he actually knows, I can’t help but feel like there’s a great distance between him and her. The closing track “A Kind of Freedom” illustrates this feeling well. When listening to it, I felt like something important in my had life ended, that I was sad, but it was going to be okay. I think that many of us have had long distance relationships before—and when they don’t pan out it hurts. What’s even more interesting about this idea is that the “Blue Sky Girl” herself may even represent not only a long distance relationship with another person, but with the past itself. This is mind blowing to me, because there’s something in all of us that deeply yearns for a simpler more innocent time. It’s sort of weird that wholly instrumental music like this can be so evocative of these sorts of feelings. That said, I’m not going to complain. This is one of the super powers of Synthwave as an artistic medium.
RECOMMENDED FOR: People who like chill music that will make you appreciate the magic of life more.
Stand-Out tracks: “A Kind of Freedom,” “Last Chance City,” “Slow Burn,” “Thunder,” and “Running From It.”
Album Color Profile: #BBDEFB
You can find everything Manhatten at https://future80s.bandcamp.com/