From the moment you first press play, Returning Home by New Arcades is a wonderful love letter to classic romantic synthwave. Overall, it’s a finely polished piece of nostalgia that's a joy to listen to the very last track. It’s one hell of a debut album with excellent production and strong voice work by Dean Canty, but the devil is in the details. So let's dig into them.
Returning Home marks the debut album for New Arcades, a team comprised of Adam Sullivan and Dean Canty. Dean sings lead but both share much of the song writing and vocal duties. Although they have been eking out releases since 2012, November 15th will mark their debut album entitled Returning Home. Not only is this a big achievement for the band but also for their label Outland Recordings who lent a nurturing hand to this creative endeavor.
At its core, Returning Home is a return to a highly romanced dreamwave sound that feels like it was ripped out of your favorite high school teen romance stories. It dreams me back to the innocent days of newfound love and loss and a world far removed from the daily adult grind. It other words, as a synthwave album, it hits the target square on.
Returning Home certainly wears its heart proudly embroidered on its jacket and sits very much on the lighter side of the synthwave spectrum. Because of this, it might not be for everyone. Those that like their synthwave with a dark tinge need not apply. Those that are looking for warm nostalgic notes to fall in love with, Returning Home is going to have exactly what you're looking for as there are some amazing songs to experience on this album.
The introduction track “In The Movies” is a wonderful opening piece with a sweeping landscape of lush synths that sets the tone of the album. Its beauty is its simplicity. It’s a simple stripped-down arrangement with an almost trance-like melody. There are no vocals to speak of, and there is no percussion. It’s pleasant, warm, and a reminder of exactly why I love this genre of music so much.
“Into The Unknown” marks the first time the listener is introduced to the vocals of Dean Canty. Featuring an interesting shuffle beat, great vocals, and pleasant melody. Perhaps the most intriguing element of the song is the little “voice mail” clip they decided to use on the bridge of the track. It’s a charming song that begs for repeat listens.
“If Only You Can See” may be an instrumental, but there are certainly a lot of interesting things going on here. The track features a punchy beat and some interesting elements like finger snaps to keep the song moving along at a bouncy pace. At the heart of the song is a cool sound byte of an astronaut’s recital of Pi. I always find little details like this delightful because it adds so much more depth to a song that begs the listener to dig deeper.
Another stand out track from the album is “Now And Forever.” With its up tempo and solid refrain, it really offers up an excellent example of the quality song-writing by the duo. This one is sure to make it to the top of many playlists.
The final track perhaps might be my favorite as it sums up the journey quite nicely. “Returning Home”, which is also the album’s namesake rounds to the album with a flavor that I can only describe as M83 meets Varsity Blues. It’s a wonderful end cap song that perfectly encapsulates the tone of the album. With highly synthesized vocals, slightly de-tuned top melody, and grandiose refrain, the journey may have ended, but that feeling of longing will forever live on.
In the end, Returning Home is a well balanced mix of instrumentals with some real nice vocals from Dean. While most of the album doesn’t stray too far from the safety of predecessors like Timecop1983 and The Midnight, the duo do manage to carve out their own signature sound. To anyone looking for some memorable romantic synth landscapes to fall in love with, make sure you pre-order your copy of Returning Home today. Returning Home will be available this Friday, November 15th via Outland Recordings.