By Jerry Herrera
LA Dreams has been around since the first days of the synth/retro revival, one of the first artists to climb out of that formative primordial ooze. LA Dreams knows how to craft the ‘80s sound just right after all this time, and has contributed greatly to the overall feel and look of the scene as it stands today. I suppose one could step back and observe, having already released a substantial catalog of music and left their indelible mark. Thankfully this is not the case for LA Dreams and he is consistently giving us great tunes.
The latest release by LA Dreams is titled Marathon. Clocking in at eight tracks, it’s a study in proper form and function when it comes to retro synth vibes. Rather than bloat the article with a track by track rundown, I’d like to point out a few highlights from Marathon.
'Of My Dreams' is an exemplary OutRun track that has everything we crave. Properly upbeat snares, with dramatic toms hitting at just the right moment, acting as a gear shifter for the track. Piano keys chase chase the bassline playfully while a simple but memorable melody drives the song forward. Too often producers will try to make their track the star of the show, in whatever experience you’re having with it. 'Of My Dreams' just asks that you play it while on that particularly curvy stretch of road and perhaps have the window down while listening. It’s pitch perfect.
I am a sucker for good saxophone solos, so 'Lush' gets a mention. It’s yet another gently charming OutRun track with a catchy melody but it closes out with sensual elegance. While I enjoyed the first three tracks of Marathon immensely, 'Entangled Road' really grabbed my attention and engaged me in a way the previous songs did not. It’s light and airy but with an R&B/freestyle flair. Big kicks and fat snare/clap combos stand in front of me while warm pads and sparse melodies float off to the sides like synth wings. If the first few tracks had me cruising a beachside highway, 'Entangled Road' had me hang gliding between the buildings of a towering metropolis at night.
'We Were Only 18' could be considered Marathon’s love theme and it delivers in all aspects. Glittering synths that change gradually like soft colored lights on a prom night dancefloor, slow snares and a wistful bassline all come together at a perfect point and I couldn’t help but see a slideshow of teenage moments in my head. It isn’t overly complex or overdone, but again the track is not the star of the show, merely a facilitator of nostalgia. The same reasons I fell in love with 'Entangled Road' come back in Marathon’s final track, 'Never Enough'. Powerful kicks and snares over several different but vibrant melodies take me far out into the ocean, and bring me back to shore at sunset.
Marathon honestly isn’t about pushing the envelope or redefining the genre or bashing you over the head with synth sorcery. It’s an apt homage at all times, existing in the same realm as music actually composed in the ‘80s. It’s a journey of emotion and nostalgia, complimenting fond memories or adding a little retro flair to new experiences. LA Dreams continues to make music that is the definition of synthwave with modesty and hard work and Marathon is another great release among so many others.
LA Dreams presents Marathon on his Bandcamp page here in the usual array of digitallly downloadable formats and is very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.