If you thought that the 'Dark Wave' music surge died out when chokers and black mesh tops did, we have some news for you; both are as cool and relevant as ever. But... what even is 'Dark Wave' anyway? And where is it hiding?
From The New York Dolls and The Velvet Underground to The Cure and New Order, there have been many influential and original bands who inspire waves of music that evolve, twist, and consequently create new waves of music over the years. Under the umbrella of the 'New Wave' genre falls 'Dark Wave' -- a sub-genre stemming (originally) from classic punk and emerging with the post-punk movement of the late 70's. Channeling a range of styles like ethereal wave, cold wave, and gothic rock, this electronically-infused genre is heavily somber and introspective, yet wildly appealing.
There is an overwhelming number of 'synth slaves' still creating some seriously gloomy tunes for the world to find. While it remains an 'underground' genre of music, it's definitely worth digging for. BUT HEY, guess what? You don't even have to dig for it because that's what we're here for! So, throw on your black hoodie, and dive in with us as we take you through just a few of our favorite relevant releases from this decade.
'Choke' by Soft Kill (album)
Embodying the darkness of the genre quite perfectly, this album holds a serious and sorrowful tone throughout. We'd recommend it for dipping your toes in. The first track titled 'Whirl' also happens to be our first favorite. It starts out with some deep and profound synth that will catch your attention immediately, leads into some enigmatic and echo-y guitar, and is eventually pulled together with appropriately soft and rich vocals. Gold Star for this one, guys. (Or, maybe a black star?)
The entire album is well worth listening to, but if you feel you have gotten a good taste of Soft Kill's Portland-born, overcast vibe, let's move onto the next mysterious masterpiece.
'Cruel Summer' by Black Marble (track)
This one takes the dark chocolate cake for the grim, low-fi sound you'll find at the core of this genre. If the name gives you any indication, Black Marble offers us an extremely cool and unique sound, while maintaining the familiarity from traditional dark wave music. If you were under the impression that this type of music was only a soundtrack for dimly-lit, depressing diary sessions, this track will rock your little goth world. Perfect for driving on a warm day with the windows down, but still sharp enough to send the crows flying. And... yes, it's okay to dance to the ominous and catchy drum machine.
From the same album (A Different Arrangement) we can't forget 'Pretender'. A bit heavier on the eerie, more serious side and oh... so good.
'Sulk' by TR/ST (track)
Last but certainly not least, 'Sulk' is thrillingly unique with it's very upbeat, electro-pulse take on this sometimes foggy style of music. High-pitched synth, heavy delays and effects, and a drum beat that will get you moving-- it's intensely dance-worthy at the very least. While this icy track fits in a bit more closely with the 'Cold Wave' category specifically, it's too good to leave out. The mood TR/ST creates here by combining a synth-pop influence with pouty lyrics is simply one of a kind. Brooding, melodramatic, 'sulky' if you will... just turn it on already.
You don't have to renounce every bit of sunshine and paint your nails black to enjoy some Dark Wave music from time to time. It's an ever-evolving genre with a lot to offer a wide audience of listeners. But, if you feel like goth-ing out and getting in the mood with us, we're always down to (passively) jam out with you.
If you want to hear more of our favorite Dark Wave tunes from artists like these, we have plenty. Be sure to check out our playlist here. We'll be adding more tracks as we find them so don't forget to follow to stay up to date.
Alright, stay spooky, you dark synth lovers.