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3 Fresh Artists to Listen to if You Love the Sound of the 80s

When asked to think of the 1980s, what exactly comes to mind? Your mind will probably conjure up images of big hair, bright colors, and loud music. Consumerism boomed during this time, and it is reflected in every aspect of pop culture at the time, from fashion to food, to music. One way in which this sort of consumerism and artificiality infiltrated music was with the introduction of synthesizers into mainstream music. Synths left their mark on the music world and have helped the music produced during this time to stick out distinctly, but synths didn’t go the way of the dodo as soon as the 90s struck. No, they’ve become modern musicians’ best friends. While many artists over the last several decades have adapted their uses and styles, evolving further away from the sounds that define the 80s, there are still many artists drawing inspiration from that time in the creation of their music. Here are some recent albums by current artists that sound like they could be straight out of an 80s movie soundtrack. 

  1. DECIDE – Djo

Djo is one of my favorite artists right now, so I felt it necessary to talk about his latest album, as it totally evokes the sound of the 80s. Djo’s album DECIDE, which came out in September of this year, has a total runtime of 36 minutes and is composed of 13 songs. Songs like “Gloom,” “Fool,” and “End of Beginning” give this album a lot of its impact by demonstrating a wide range of lyrical themes, such as failed friendships and moving on. Every track on the album makes use of synths to create that synthetic and techy sound that is often associated with music from the 80s. If the album alone doesn’t remind you of the 80s, then perhaps it would help to know that Djo is the alias for Stranger Things actor Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington, the self-proclaimed babysitter of the group. Stranger Things is a globally successful horror series that notoriously takes place in the 1980s. 

  1. Little Dark Age – MGMT

Next on this list is MGMT’s 2018 album Little Dark Age. Though this album has fewer tracks to choose from than the last, with just 10 songs versus the prior’s 13, it has a longer total runtime of 44 minutes. The titular song “Little Dark Age,” as well as others like “Me and Michael” and “When You Die,” are some of the strongest tracks on the album in terms of stirring up 80s nostalgia. The distorted vocalizations, the use of synths, and the pumping bass in these songs are the defining qualities that give this album its 80s feel. Other songs on the album that sound reminiscent of the 80s include “James” and “Hand It Over.” These songs perfectly fit the 80s synthpop vibe.  

  1. Songs from The Golden One – Whitmer Thomas

The final album on this list is called Songs from The Golden One by musician and comedian Whitmer Thomas. This album is actually made up of extended versions of songs that he performs during his Comedy special, The Golden One. I didn’t know this when I first discovered the album, but it does add some context to the songs, which all have a satirical tone to them. The album has a runtime of 33 minutes and a total of 10 songs. While all of the songs on this album have a very distinct musical quality to them, “The Codependent Enabler” and “Hurts to Be Alive” have some of the strongest 80s vibes to them. It only takes a couple of seconds of listening to either of these songs to hear the similarities to 80s rock and alt rock.


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