Electric Youth

Memory Emotion

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Five years after the release of Electric Youth's debut album, Innerworld, and nearly a decade after they broke through with the single "A Real Hero," Memory Emotion proves that the duo's dreamy synth pop -- or is it synth-heavy dream pop? -- is as relevant as ever. This isn't just because the sound popularized by the Drive soundtrack became one of the dominant styles of the 2010s. During the years between their albums, Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin added some new twists to their style while working on projects like 2017's Breathing, the score they created for Anthony Scott Burns' film before they and Burns left the project. Electric Youth's mastery of moods has never sounded as ambitious as it does on Memory Emotion's opening track, "The Life." As Griffin sings about being too self-involved, the music spans a film's worth of feelings -- romance, spacey majesty, a newfound urgency -- while it reaches toward the stars. Many of the album's songs feel like they're from forgotten movies, or ones that haven't been made yet. "Breathless," which gives Griffin's musings about a relationship's potential a futuristic sheen with its glowing synths, could be from a sci-fi romance; the breezy "ARAWA" suggests a montage of a pair of lovers heading to California to escape their past. Garrick and Griffin pair Memory Emotion's vivid imagery with an equal amount of personality. "Higher"'s euphoric, disco-tinged choruses and moody comedowns make it a standout along with "Thirteen," a ballad filled with the kind of yearning that only comes with the loss of true love. Sometimes, the album glides along so smoothly that it undersells just how tight Griffin and Garrick's songwriting is; the lilting hook on "Now Now" is almost felt more than heard. Even if Memory Emotion threatens to be too vaporous for its own good occasionally, it still finds Electric Youth taking some big steps forward while retaining the essence of their music.

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