Best synth pop and genre-related albums 2023

Best synth pop and genre-related albums 2023

We have two new nov­el­ties this year in our art­icle "Best synth pop and genre-related albums 2023". For the first time, we have three albums at pos­i­tion 1 – to the exact third decim­al place. All three albums received a sol­id 4.125 stars over­all in our track by track review. And to do fair justice to the oth­er albums, I still ranked them up to 10th place. So all in all, we have 12 albums in the list. But that's not quite right! The nov­elty num­ber 2 are the hon­our­able men­tions 2023, which unfor­tu­nately didn't quite make it into the top 10, but are still amaz­ing albums.

Unfortunately, I can hardly link an album in this list with the full review, even though every album in this list deserves a great review. The main prob­lem is that most of those simply don't man­age to get the promos to us in time (as is increas­ingly the case). My time is also get­ting short­er and short­er. Last year, for example, I launched anoth­er site called "Madcap Movies". If you have a spe­cial taste in films, then take a look. I've also star­ted writ­ing a book, which will hope­fully be pub­lished in 2024 (stay curi­ous!). Never a dull moment for me. But that's just by the way.

Without any fur­ther ado, enjoy the list of the best synth pop and genre-related albums 2023.

The best albums 2023

10. System Syn – Kill The Light

System Syn - Kill The Light

Release Date: September 22nd, 2023
Label: Self-released
Discogs: System Syn – Kill The Light
Partially sounds like: Imperative Reaction
Rating: 3.3 ★★★☆☆

System Syn mas­ter mind Clint Carney has been more act­ive music­ally in recent years. I per­son­ally like that a lot, because I really love his singing voice. The album "Kill The Light" is by no means a bad album. However, com­pared to its 2020 pre­de­cessor "Once Upon A Second Act", it is a little weak­er. Nevertheless, System Syn con­tin­ues to play at the top of the synth pop and future pop scene.

9. Ladytron – Time's Arrow

Ladytron - Time's Arrow

Release Date: January 20th, 2023
Label: Ladytron Music
Discogs: Ladytron – Time's Arrow
Partially sounds like: MarsheauxClient
Rating: 3.35 ★★★☆☆

On the whole, Ladytron's album "Time's Arrow" falls into the realm of mediocrity. While a few tracks stand out, the major­ity of the album tends to be weak. It is aimed more at die-hard fans of the band. From my point of view, it is com­par­able to the 2011 album "Gravity The Seducer", which also didn't really appeal to my taste.

As I don't like to wal­low in the past, I find that my optim­ism for a return to the cal­ibre of the band's "Velocifero" or "Witching Hour" dwindles with each suc­cess­ive album. Even the pre­vi­ous self-titled album 'Ladytron' came rel­at­ively close. However, the cur­rent release lacks the infec­tious­ness and son­ic essence that made Ladytron's earli­er works truly unforgettable.

Read the full review of "Ladytron – Time's Arrow" here

8. Blackcarburning – Watching Sleepers

Blackcarburning - Watching Sleepers

Release Date: June 23rd, 2023
Label: COP International
Discogs: Blackcarburning – Watching Sleepers
Partially sounds like: Mesh, OMD
Rating: 3.43 ★★★☆☆

Behind the pro­ject "Blackcarburning" is none oth­er than Mesh sing­er "Mark Hockings". That's why many of the songs sound a lot like Mesh, which is due to the singer's uniquely pleas­ant voice. After 4 full EPs from 2021–2022, the first solo album was finally released in June 2023. Overall, a very strong album that, in my opin­ion, con­tains a few more exper­i­ment­al songs that would prob­ably nev­er have made it onto a reg­u­lar Mesh album. Some of them are quite good, but oth­ers are not my cup of tea.

Nevertheless, Mark has noth­ing to hide. On the con­trary: he can be proud of such a great debut album. With 14 tracks on the reg­u­lar release, there is a risk that there will be a few weak tracks here and there. The lim­ited edi­tion con­tains 4 more songs, and the exclus­ive fan set (which I own) con­tains anoth­er 4 songs on top! This should be hon­oured and I have the greatest respect for this mam­moth pro­ject and am excited to see what hap­pens next with "Blackcarburning" and "Mesh".

7. IAMX – Fault Lines1

IAMX - Fault Lines1

Release Date: May 12th, 2023
Label: Unfall Productions
Discogs: IAMX – Fault Lines¹
Partially sounds like: Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk
Rating: 3.56 ★★★★☆

I have to admit that I have a love-hate rela­tion­ship with IAMX. If songs cap­tiv­ate me, then they are imme­di­ately 5‑star songs that I love dearly. But then there are also all the totally cereb­ral, exper­i­ment­al songs that I can't deal with at all. I love the albums "Metanoia" and "Alive In New Light", for example. When it comes to albums like "Unfall", "Echo Echo" or "Machinate", the only ques­tion I can think of is "Why?".

The sheer unbe­liev­able music­al range of Chris Corner is indis­put­able. He is a geni­us and lives for his art. However, I prefer the more "nor­mal songs", as far as you can say with these kind of sounds. "Fault Lines1" lies some­where in between. I can eas­ily divide the album, which is just 8 tracks long, into two halves. The first four songs = big love, the last four songs = nope!

6. Eisfabrik – Götter In Weiß

Eisfabrik - Götter In Weiß

Release Date: December 29th, 2022
Label: NoCut
Discogs: Eisfabrik – Götter In Weiß
Partially sounds like: Faderhead, VNV Nation, Covenant
Rating: 3.73 ★★★★☆

The future pop band "Eisfabrik" is pick­ing up the pace of pro­duc­tion again. Their latest album "Life Below Zero", which con­tained 20 tracks (!), was only released in February 2022. Now the guys are fol­low­ing up and present­ing their 7th stu­dio album after just 11 years of band his­tory. I can't think of any oth­er band that is as pro­duct­ive as "Eisfabrik".

I can only say a little about the album in this short sum­mary. It is very well pro­duced and the sound is pre­dict­able and provides no sur­prises. That's prob­ably because we've learnt by now: "Where it says "Eisfabrik" on the label, it says "Eisfabrik" inside!".

5. OMD – Bauhaus Staircase

OMD - Bauhaus Staircase

Release Date: October 27th, 2023
Label: 100% Records / White Noise
Discogs: OMD – Bauhaus Staircase
Partially sounds like: Holly Johnson, Kraftwerk, New Order
Rating: 3.75 ★★★★☆

"Bauhaus Staircase" is the name of the new album by British elec­tron­ic music pion­eers "OMD". A band that have been in the music busi­ness longer than Depeche Mode, just for the record. The album con­tains many extremely strong songs, but to the same extent rather mediocre songs (speak­ing at a high level). Songs like the open­er and title song "Bauhaus Staircase" or the single "Slow Train" are already clas­sics in my opinion.

And then, unfor­tu­nately, there are songs like "Where We Started" or "Healing" that drag down the over­all rat­ing. The Kraftwerk-inspired track "Evolution Of Species" is just not my cup of tea, des­pite the good pro­duc­tion. Nevertheless, the album as a whole is bril­liant and I'm always happy to hear some­thing new from OMD, because so far an album from the band has nev­er com­pletely dis­ap­poin­ted me.

4. VNV Nation – Electric Sun

VNV Nation - Electric Sun

Release Date: April 28th, 2023
Label: Metropolis
Discogs: VNV Nation – Electric Sun
Partially sounds like: Depeche Mode, Solar Fake, The Prodigy
Rating: 3.79 ★★★★☆

The track by track rat­ing is as dynam­ic with few bands as it is with "VNV Nation". In oth­er words, the song is either a mer­ci­less club hit that won't let your dan­cing feet stand still or it's usu­ally a gap filler or even a skip track. The pre­de­cessor "Noire" also scored rather poorly with just 3 stars in our over­all rat­ing, although it does con­tain such hits as "Where Is The Future?" or "God Of All".

However, "Electric Sun" does a lot of things right and the rat­ing jumps are no longer quite so drastic, which is reflec­ted pos­it­ively in the fant­ast­ic over­all rat­ing of 3.79 stars. I hope the band takes my tip from the review ser­i­ously. If they do, noth­ing will stand in the way of a 4+ star rat­ing in the future.

Read the full review of 'VNV Nation – Electric Sun'

3. Veil Of Light – Sundancing

Veil Of Light - Sundancing

Release Date: February 24th, 2023
Label:  Avant!
Discogs: Veil Of Light – Sundancing
Partially sounds like: Pet Shop Boys, Tears For Fears
Rating: 3.83 ★★★★☆

"Veil Of Light" is one of the most prom­ising bands in 2023. With son­ic light­ness and a lot of fin­esse, the band 2023 has made it into my heart. The sound of the two Swiss reminds me of the great 80s hits by Pet Shop Boys or Tears For Fears. Classic synth pop and elec­tro pop with a pinch of new wave is the order of the day here. However, the band is not really a new­comer, as the duo has been shak­ing up the music world since 2014 and "Sundancing" is now their sixth stu­dio album.

However, I first got in touch with the band in 2019 through the music video "Fact2019". I am all the more grate­ful to have finally and defin­it­ively dis­covered them for myself and hope that you, as a loy­al read­er, will take a closer look at this band. I can also recom­mend watch­ing the great music videos for the singles "Apricot Kiss", "Head-On Collision" and "Hypersleep". The album "Sundancing" has almost no weak­nesses and is full of great songs with pro­found lyr­ics that are wait­ing to be heard and hope­fully played on big stages soon.

Listen to 'Veil Of Light – Sundancing'

2. Red Cell – Red Cell

Red Cell - Red Cell

Release Date: July 10th, 2023
Label: Stupid Dream Records
Discogs: Red Cell – Red Cell
Partially sounds like: Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, De/Vision
Rating: 3.91 ★★★★☆

Similar to "Veil Of Light", the Swedish band "Red Cell" has also been around in the scene for quite some time (since 2003), but unfor­tu­nately under my radar until now. Luckily, the band decided to send us the track "Only Night" via SubmitHub for review in 2022. I liked the song straight away and that's how the band got our first atten­tion. This was fol­lowed by a few more sub­mis­sions, which as far as I can remem­ber we have all pub­lished. "Red Cell" and Electrozombies have found each other.

The album of the same name, "Red Cell", is filled with one synth pop / elec­tro pop banger after anoth­er and is a real pleas­ure to listen to. In addi­tion to the con­sist­ent qual­ity of the songs on the album, I would like to take this oppor­tun­ity to men­tion the band's great cov­er art­works. They def­in­itely stand out from the crowd and make my eyes smile with joy.

Listen to 'Red Cell – Red Cell' now

Drum roll for the three number 1 albums of 2023

1a. William Control – Sex Cult

William Control - Sex Cult

Release Date: April 14th, 2023
Label: Control Records
Discogs: William Control – Sex Cult
Partially sounds like: Depeche Mode, Modern Talking, Rick Astley, Ashbury Heights, Priest
Rating: 4.125 ★★★★☆

In 'Sex Cult,' William Control tri­umphantly returns after a year, deliv­er­ing an excep­tion­al album. The open­er, 'Hell,' sets the tone with a power­ful vibe, sig­nal­ing Control's fer­vent comeback. Each track, from the chilling 'Sex Cult' to the infec­tious 'Baptized', is metic­u­lously crafted.

Classic synth pop ele­ments shine in tracks like 'Brand' and 'Abuse', where Control nav­ig­ates emo­tions with fin­esse. The second half intro­duces new gems like the upbeat 'Allegations' and pop-infused 'Accusation', evok­ing nos­tal­gia without chees­iness. 'Controversy' delves into pas­sion, 'Haunted' offers a soci­ety-crit­ic­al per­spect­ive, and 'Tumblr' injects buoyancy.

The album con­cludes with a skill­ful cov­er ver­sion of Frank Sinatra's 'My Way.' 'Sex Cult' stands out, blend­ing catchy synth pop with thought-pro­vok­ing themes. Its diversity, metic­u­lous pro­duc­tion, and Control's unmis­tak­able style make it a must-buy for fans and a highly recom­men­ded addi­tion to the genre. In sum­mary, 'Sex Cult' is a cult, sexy album, show­cas­ing Control's ded­ic­a­tion to excep­tion­al music.

Read the full review of 'William Control – Sex Cult'

1b. Beborn Beton – Darkness Falls Again

Beborn Beton - Darkness Falls Again

Release Date: March 17th, 2023
Label: Dependent Records
Discogs: Beborn Beton – Darkness Falls Again
Partially sounds like: Depeche Mode, Mesh
Rating: 4.125 ★★★★☆

Beborn Beton's latest album, 'Darkness Falls Again', marks a tri­umphant return after an 8‑year hiatus. The album show­cases a dark­er ton­al­ity, evid­ent from the open­ing track 'My Monstrosity,' a haunt­ing bal­lad that sets the stage for the entire record. 'Dancer In The Dark' stands out as a midtempo gem with an infec­tious beat, remin­is­cent of the band's clas­sic sound. 'Last Chance' appeals to fans of elec­tro rock and synth pop, fea­tur­ing gritty synth sounds that add intens­ity. 'Trockenfallen lassen', a German bal­lad, may not res­on­ate as strongly with non-German speak­ers. 'I Watch My Life on TV' ini­tially feels unwieldy but grows on the listen­er with its ver­sat­ile sound.

'Electricity' is a synth-pop standout, bal­an­cing catchy melod­ies with intro­spect­ive lyr­ics. 'Burning Gasoline' pays trib­ute to the past with 80s-style synth sounds, while the final track, 'I Hope You're Not Easily Scared,' impresses with its indus­tri­al edge and explos­ive drops.

Despite the album's brev­ity, the absence of fillers is a strength, and the deluxe edi­tion offers addi­tion­al tracks and remixes. 'Darkness Falls Again' is a fant­ast­ic and con­sist­ent album, show­cas­ing Beborn Beton's ded­ic­a­tion to push­ing the bound­ar­ies of elec­tron­ic music. Fans will eagerly anti­cip­ate the band's next live performance.

Read full review of 'Beborn Beton – Darkness Falls Again'

1c. Depeche Mode – Memento Mori

Depeche Mode - Memento Mori

Release Date: March 24th, 2023
Label: Sony Music
Discogs: Depeche Mode – Memento Mori
Partially sounds like: Camouflage, Deine Lakaien, De/Vision, Gary Numan, IAMX
Rating: 4.125 ★★★★☆

In their 15th stu­dio album, "Memento Mori", Depeche Mode deliv­ers a celes­ti­al mix of elec­tron­ic sound­scapes and intro­spect­ive lyr­ics. Opening with "My Cosmos Is Mine," the album sets a tone remin­is­cent of their earli­er work. Highlights include the emo­tion­ally charged "Ghosts Again", a trib­ute to the late Andrew Fletcher, and the exper­i­ment­al "Before We Drown," show­cas­ing the band's will­ing­ness to push bound­ar­ies. However, not all tracks hit the mark, with "Don’t Say You Love Me" and "Caroline's Monkey" fall­ing short of expectations.

The album con­cludes with the elec­tro rock dynam­ism of "Never Let Me Go" and the atmo­spher­ic bal­lad "Speak To Me", provid­ing a fit­ting con­clu­sion to the jour­ney. While "Memento Mori" doesn't rep­lic­ate the icon­ic 'Violator' era, it stands as a sol­id and uncom­prom­ising con­tinu­ation of the band's recent releases. The album may not cater to those yearn­ing for a return to past glor­ies, but it exudes a unique charm tailored for devoted fans, reject­ing radio-friendly com­prom­ises. Overall, "Memento Mori" is a won­der­ful offer­ing for enthu­si­asts, embra­cing a con­sist­ent evol­u­tion and rein­for­cing Depeche Mode's endur­ing leg­acy. Whether cel­eb­rated for sen­ti­ment­al reas­ons or appre­ci­ated for its artist­ic mer­its, the album proves to be a worth­while addi­tion to the band's catalog.

Read full review of 'Depeche Mode – Memento Mori'

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Honourable mentions 2023

Great albums that I enjoyed listen­ing to in 2023, but which only barely missed being in the top 10. Nevertheless, they are def­in­itely worth listen­ing to and I there­fore recom­mend hav­ing a listen to them.

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Do you think we missed an awesome album in 2023?

Please leave us a line in the com­ment sec­tion below. We are curi­ous about your favour­ite album(s) in 2023.

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  1. I would abso­lutely agree Nuovo Testamento's Love Lines belongs on any 2023 best of synth list. If you're not famil­i­ar with it, please give it a listen!

    1. Thank you for your feed­back. Yes, of course I know Nuovo Testmento. I have pub­lished a few music videos for them: Nuovo Testamento.
      I have take a quick listen to this Madonna/Paula Abdul infused album and updated the list of hon­our­able men­tions 2023.

  2. I think Nuovo Testamento's Love Lines album def­in­itely deserves men­tion that album is infec­tious, not a dull moment on the album and even more incred­ible live. Highly recom­mend check­ing it out.

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