It’s easy to get lost in the music vibrancy that is The Midnight. The ’80s references and plot points are plentiful, as are the visual presentation’s bright colors, layered textures, and knack for new wave and pop-rock melody, a sound that’s as much Bryan Adams as it is Berlin. But there’s something living, breathing, and thriving across the Los Angeles trio’s recent album Kids that makes it more than a pang of sonic nostalgia.
The Midnight are not merely riding a synthwave — they’re helping re-shape it. And their modern-day definitions are likely to leave a lasting impression.
With yearning singles like “America 2” and “Arcade Dreams,” The Midnight are further perfecting a sound that flashed under florescent nighttime seven years ago via the soundtrack to crime noir film Drive. The seeds that movie and its soundtrack planted in 2011 are in full bloom today through the music of The Midnight, as well as Boston’s Trlogy and other rising acts like Gunship, Scandroid, Timecop83, and countless others. The edges are a bit softer in The Midnight’s world, and the romanticism tends to swirl around the existentialism of oneself, but the breathtaking elevation is limitless in a world of dwindling poptimism.
“I was [in London] for a week and I remember I saw [Drive] alone in a movie theatre,” The Midnight’s Tim McEwan tells Vehlinggo. “Literally that same week on that trip someone showed me Futurecop! Seeing Drive, when I heard College and Kavinsky, and the aesthetics of the movie — and later discovering Futurecop! — I thought, ‘What is this magical place?’ It spoke to me on a deep level. I was hungry to feed my inner artist at the time.”
That led to a spike in creativity awash in synths and neon, a certain style and sound coated in an aesthetic of retro familiarity and modern pop engagement. If it’s possible to push forward and redefine the future by forming a sharp allegiance to the past, The Midnight are perfecting the art by combining elements of hope and intrigue to the realities we’ve already experienced, whether they be good or bad. And it’s keeping them ahead of the pack in a rising synthwave underground.
“What I like about his genre is it’s a bunch of bedroom producers coming up with this underground thing,” McEwan continues. “Not every track has the best mix or perfect production, but I’d much rather listen to something some scrappy kid put together in a bedroom that feels fresh and speaks to me than something with a correct mix that has no vibe… the musicality and the melodic elements of the whole synthwave genre spoke to me.”
That ‘wave had led the trio to Allston.
Digest Kids above via Spotify, and relive your youth with a video clip for “Arcade Dreams” below, which splices retro film clips from The Wizard, Bloodsport, RoboCop, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and others that connect our pasts to the future we long for. We all hope for this certain kind of sequel.
THE MIDNIGHT :: GILLIGAN MOSS + LAYTO :: DJ CARBO :: Monday, October 8 at Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave. in Allston, MA :: 8 p.m., 18-plus, $18 in advance and $20 at doors :: Brighton Music Hall event page :: Advance tickets :: Featured image by Heather Hawke courtesy of The Midnight