Now normally, I’m not a big fan of alternative or even indie rock music, never found it enjoyable. However, mix it with soundscape, synthwave, and french film score vibes, you get the musician known as The Northern Lights (aka, The Astronaut Arcade). They’ve released a good number of albums and EP’s and singles, the one I’m focusing all my effort on currently is the Teenage Wasteland EP, released August 30th last year, and NewRetroWave’s #1 EP of last year. Wowza. I agree fully.
The album, like I mentioned, is a mixture of many genres, such as alternative and soundscape, but with a synthwave and french film score feeling mixed in. It’s described something “like something playing in the background of a VHS tape you found in your mom’s attic from the 80’s”, a quote from their Dreamers – Part 1 album from 2014. Also, the album name gets it’s…well, name, from the song Baba ‘O Riley (Teenage Wasteland) by The Who. Classy.
The EP starts off with the title track, “Teenage Wasteland”. Oh my ever loving god, this is perfect. I can’t find many words except “oh my loving god, this is perfect” to describe this opening song. Lyrics are really hard to make out, and I can tell they’re not from the song by The Who (I know, I checked). It sounds good, feels good, moves good, there’s nothing good about it, because it’s perfect. “Alive”, however, is my favorite track on the EP, and you’re all thinking “Jeremy, you dummy, you just said the title track is mucho excelente, perfect even.” Yes, yes I did. This is what’s called an opinion. “Alive” is my favorite track for it’s minimalism, it’s lack of lyrics and an upbeat dance vibe unlike the title track. Feels more real and movie soundtrack-like.
“Downtown” is exactly that, a sprawled out and vast city full of old buildings housing people of many ages, faces, feelings, and personalities, there’s buildings and locations dedicated to selling and buying, coming and going, and importantly, streets and lights and empty walkways where people move and hustle on by. It’s a teenage wasteland (HA HA I NAME DROPPED LIKE AN IDIOT).
“Wild Hearts” feels like an old Tears For Fears track long-lost, sung by a young Rick Astley and the background sounds of a Cyndi Lauper track, it’s a culture bomb. It’s an instant smack in the gut and uppercut to the lower jaw that moves through your nervous system right into your brain full of the 1980’s.
It’s feelings are pure, lyrics again indescribeable, but I don’t mind, it still gives me a soundtrack feeling to it. “Say Goodbye” ends the EP, and what an ending it is. It’s either sad or happy depending on how you think a movie containing these tracks would work. I think it’s a bittersweet ending, like the ending to “Say Anything”. Guy and girl meet one last time, they kiss, and girl breaks up with guy because she’s going away. Away in body, not in mind or heart or soul. She’s still there in your memories, and that’s the song “Say Goodbye” in a nutshell by The Northern Lights.
This album does have it’s fair share of issues, though. Some songs are really loud, some are fairly quiet. Then again, I guess it adds to the effect of a music soundtrack. Some have lyrics, and some don’t. The tracks without lyrics are my favorite, but the ones with the singing are a blast to listen to. I award this album a spectacular 4.99/5 letter man jackets. Good day.