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Synth EP Review: "Arcade Sunset" by Louvers

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

Art by  Paul Barbato

Art by Paul Barbato

Louvers’ Arcade Sunset combines music full of dynamic energy with moments of aching, nostalgic memory and Louvers’ unique voice. The lyrics to the songs are visceral and the synth melodies dance and sparkle.

“Boardwalk” kicks off with the sound of an arcade before deep, oscillating bass starts to throb and a angular, rapidly shifting line of digital notes flickers through. The drums smoothly pulse and waves of minor key, sharp-edged guitar sound are joined by glowing, leaping synth notes carrying in a repeating, energetic line.

The angular guitar drives out into the music, descending with some shadow before the medium high, shining synths keep playing their hypnotic pattern and a rounder, higher line of synth bubbles through, floating out now into quiet.

A soft sweep of sound eases into the background and a glowing synth melody delicately touches my ears as “Breaking Night (lights in the sky)” comes to life. The energizing throb of the solid drums mingles with pulsing bass to provide an easy going beat underneath the dreaming vocal melody.

Louvers’ vocals are full of an ache for simpler days, as they cry out above the other elements of the music. The caressing synth adds to the feeling of longing as a glockenspiel plays a sparkling little line. A pipe-like synth shimmers and croons a fragile melody, almost painful, as it calls out over the bass and beat before fading.

Childhood is a time brimming over with wonder and mystery. The narrator talks about spending time with a friend and talking about “distant hallways and scary stories and mysteries of the mind.” They spent time playing tapes, staying up late as they “searched for truths we knew only we could find.” In the first chorus, he talks about them passing the time with VHS and Super Nintendo while they stayed up all night to catch a glimpse of those lights in the sky.

He and his friend would share “passed down stories of ghostly hallways and travellers through time.” They would stay awake and send away “for all the horror mag ads we could find.” The second chorus has the narrator urging his friend not to fall asleep. He talks about, “Freddy Krueger and Super Nintendo breaking night” in order to see the lights in the sky.”

“MotoFury” leaps to life with a rapid, distant oscillation as full synth chords move in a shifting pattern. They’re joined by a brightly chiming synth line as the rocking vocals carry a dynamic, minor key melody. Quickly whirling arpeggios dance and flicker while Louvers’ voice adds more power to the music, carrying the soaring melody.

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Round brassy synth adds a smooth flow as the drums and bass drive the track onward and the positive vocal melody flies through the track. The beat adds to the sense of charging down a ribbon of asphalt, motor screaming. Now the guitar cries out, full and uplifting, before the song fades out.

This song is a vivid evocation of the wild freedom found on a motorbike. There’s a sense of energy crackling from the line, “Rev ‘em up and we’re outta sight, the boulevard comes to life.” The narrator talks about chasing the horizon and feeling no pain. A clear image is projected in the words, “Pavement’s hot and we’re on the run, search for truth in the setting sun.”

The narrator says that if you live in leather, you’ll never die in vain. He goes on to say that “motofury” is going wild on the streets and talks about the “highway demons of summer unleashed.” There are sharp pictures generated by the line, “From the surf and the sun to the desert nights we run, searching for that one true dream.” As the song ends, the narrator talks about how they’ll experience “neon glow on a summer night” and as they chase the horizon, they’ll never live in vain.

A slowly spinning arpeggio shines into the music as “Arcade Sunset” begins. That arpeggio is joined by a quick, propulsive drum beat and an active bassline, as an elevated chime sparkles in the distance. After a drum fill, Louvers’ voice carries a rising melody as the light-filled synths climb with it. The guitar dances into the music, its mellow voice winding through the shine around it.

A medium-low synth bursts as Louvers’ unique, expressive vocals leap in. Through it all, the distant chimes glitter. Synth chords climb with positive feelings as the guitar throbs along in the background and the drums keep shaping the music. The melody is a little melancholy but still uplifting as the guitar sings out, enfolding the ears while the beat keeps moving forward. Arpeggios glimmer while a line of synth arcs upward and fades.

The first steps out into the world when you’re young are full of intense, overwhelming sensations that this song captures. The first line creates the sense of escaping to something new and a little scary in the words, “Heaven knows what it took to get here, wander around lost on a Sunday.” There’s a clear image in the idea of being left with “saltwater hair” after the weekend when “feelings abound and memories (are) on their way.”

The evening starts as “shadows grow in the thick summer air” while still wandering around. A sense memory is evoked by the words, “electric smell of pinball in the air.” The overwhelming sensations of being lost in the crowd pour out as you “follow lights and follow sounds.”

Another strong picture is painted in the lyrics, “boardwalk creaks, surf it breaks” as you remember that “your home ain’t far away.” The inviting neon lights of an arcade draw you in as you “drop a quarter in the slot.” As the day ends, you find yourself “feeling down…in the arcade sunset way.”

“Proving Grounds” launches with an oscillating drum and bass pulse that’s joined by an organ-like synth playing a sharp pattern. The guitar’s shadowed howl cries out and quick arpeggios flash through the track as the oscillating bass and beat pound on.

The organ keeps up a glimmering line while thick chords add propulsion and an elevated, distorted, nasal synth wriggles through. The howling guitar raises its voice over the bursting organ that leaps through the track over the pulsing bass and drums as a twisting synth pattern cuts in. Once again, the organ shifts and now slow arpeggios keep twirling over the organ and out into silence.

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