The music of The Midnight has always been centered around this idea of connectivity. Whether linking back to a past emotion or feeling, or a place that now exists solely in our minds, Tim McEwan and Tyler Lyle skillfully craft a synthwave soundtrack to our longings, our desires, and quests for understanding. Last year’s breakout LP Kids touched on these themes, with the ’80s as a sort of loose backdrop, an mental assumption of a certain time of innocence, youthful abandon, and open minds rather than a defined decade now filtered through shitty documentaries and commercialized subcultures.
So the duo’s new single, “America Online,” is intriguing for a few different reasons. One, this passing of time from one decade to the next brings The Midnight into the ’90s; to August 6, 1991, specifically, as noted on the track’s artwork. That’s the historic date the first website went online, and it no doubt has significance based around what The Midnight are up to next. Secondly, the track itself feels like a bridge to something else; it’s a more atmospheric composition, rife with vocoder, wandering synths and a lush depth, and certainly more sly in nature than recent pop-forward singles like “America 2” and “Lost Boy.” All the questions posed in the lyrics (“If I love you, will you love me? / If I want you, will you want me? / I’m reaching, are you reaching out? / If I touch you, will you touch me now?”) suggest answers are yet to come.
This query for reciprocation is another nod to connectivity, and tapping back to our emotions of when we first logged on to the internet back in the ’90s — not realizing then that we’d never log off — feels like a conduit to bring us somewhere else. We don’t know where just yet. But with The Midnight at the wheel, the journey is often just as wonderful as the destination.