Reimagining Retro Pop – Blonde Diamond, Mono XL, Pixia

Canadian band Blonde Diamond gets groovy on their new single Red Flags.  The four piece indie electronic act nails the retro sound with remarkable precision.  Much like French electro pop icons Phoenix and other artists from the classic Astralwerks catalog, their writing is rooted in R&b, taking stylistic cues from the electronic dance music of the 90s.  The Astralwerks scene which also included Daft Punk took elements from disco, 80s pop, and Motown to create timeless electronic jams still enjoyed in clubs around the world today.  Blonde Diamond is a little of all of that and more, as they bring a modern indie sensibility to the mix, and an affinity for intoxicating choruses.  

  Sonically, Blonde Diamond employs a variety of tweaked polysynths, meticulously molding interesting sounds throughout the new single.  While the synths color up the arrangement, the bass carries the movement with both funk and melody.  It’s as if James Jamerson and Paul McCartney collaborated on the bass line.  

  It’s lifted by the band’s singer, Alexis Young, a sultry shapeshifter with a deadly noir gaze full of mystery and depth.  Throughout their catalog, the style and fashion she brings to the project adds an exhilarating element as you can’t help but admire the magnitude of her presence.  Though everyone in this band reeks of style, the other members thoughtfully give way to let her shine, as she pulls you into the their new video Red Flags.

  Its also ideal that she should play such a vital role in the video, as Alexis went through a lot leading up to the creation of this song.  Lead vocalist Alexis Young says she wrote ‘Red Flags’ to help break the silence that so many people feel about speaking up about abusive relationships. 

Post the breakup of a very long relationship and at a particularly vulnerable moment in my life, through a chance encounter I found myself in a relationship that was—on its surface—everything that I was looking for,” says Alexis. “The romance, the infatuation, the lust. It was the type of affair that you only read about in books and see in films. However, the red flags had presented themselves from the get-go and I initially ignored them. I wanted to see the good in this person, and believe that I could be a strong and positive force in their life. When it finally got to the point that I allowed myself to accept that it was abusive and emotionally manipulative, I felt stupid and ashamed that I could be so naïve and easily coerced into such a spiral of entrapment and darkness. I wanted to write this song not just as a form of healing for my own experience, but also as a message to others that you CAN walk away. That you’re not alone. And that it’s easy to get swept up and lose perspective when you’re in the eye of the storm.” 

  This is a story that is painfully relatable.  Unfortunately everything is not always how it appears on the surface.  It’s hard to think someone as desirable as Alexis could fall victim to this kind of intrusion, but it’s true, this kind of manipulation does not discriminate.  Alexis is incredibly strong for sharing this message and lending support to everyone else who has been through this kind of experience.  We admire her strength and courage in sharing this experience.  

  Hear Red Flags now on our Best New Indie Synthwave playlist.

Mono XL

London based project MONO XL caught our attention with their new single Brown Eyes.  

Future Islands is a fair starting point in placing MONO XL stylistically.  There is a clear affinity for synth pop, with the writing rooted in more traditional indie.  It’s all lifted by singer Mike De Lis soulful vocal effort.  de Lis has the soulful affect thats get to the emotion of the feeling, its an intoxicating element that lures you with heartfelt appeal.  It reminds me of something I heard recently, how an iconic artist remarked that John Lennon would have been booed off of American Idol.  We crave authenticity, admiring how a singer uses his ability as a personal touch, trying only to be himself in the moment.  Make no mistake, Mike is a great singer dictating this melody at will.  Combined with the dark synth pop vibes, altogether mixed in a devilish spell that conjures sentimental reflections of our pasts.  Brown Eyes is dance inducing mood music.  It’s unsuspectingly introspective, not entirely revealing its full potential until de Lis welcomes us with raspy precision and elegant placement.  

  Sharp electric guitars accentuate a crystal clear mix.  The stylistic electro pop quality of producer Piti Varela brings an additional sonic elegance with interesting break outs and pick ups.  

  They gift us a groovy psych rock outro stage ready for the extended jam likely to follow the most cherished part of their live performance.  Mono XL has some of the crossover appeal of underground retro wave favs Retroglyphs, who better evolve the live feel of wave music with a modern indie sensibility.  It’s roots in nostalgia are undeniable, but its also a continuation, something entirely new.  

  Hear Brown Eyes now on our Best New Indie Synthwave playlist


UK based artist Pixia is capturing the magic of new wave in a modern indie pop package.  Her new single Gold of Mine builds from a minimalistic vocal intro to an infectious beatspace reminiscent of the catchiest Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears classics.  The 80s vibe is undeniable but Pixia has an aura all her own.  It’s a pop extension of the retro futuristic synthwave movement, as Pixia evolves the spirit of that era in a modern pop package.  Gold of Mine would sit well next to the new crossover mega hits by The Weeknd and Dua Lipa.  A generation of 80s fanatics who wanted to hear their favorite vibe in a new way.  Pixia has the strength and poise of other female 80s icons like Madonna and Annie Lennox but her writing is more similar to the post punk inspired New Wave projects like the aforementioned Mode.  

  Pixia has star power.  It’s a byproduct of a life on stage and her experience under the spotlight.  At five years old her talent was already recognized, and through her adolescence she frequented singing competitions, constantly sculpting her persona.  Gold of Mine continues the realization of who she is as an artist, as she delves deeper into the stratosphere of art pop with interesting melodies and unfamiliar changes.  Her ability to recognize details within her melodies that make them unique is a testament to her studied upbringing in mainstream music. Pixia is ready to bring something fresh and different to the modern movement of 80s derived pop.  

  Hear Gold of Mine now on our Best New Indie Synthwave playlist



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