Sunglasses Kid - Graduation
Sunglasses Kid is a prolific UK based retro synth producer known for his collabs with Miranda Carey and Dana Jean Pheonix, and co-producing NINA's 2016 EP. His signature style is the most sun-washed type of synthwave that would perfectly belong in 80's teen/young adult movies.
It's no coincidence that on Graduation, his debut LP, the intro track makes a jokey reference to the Principal Strickland from Back to the Future – the same kind of pep from the movie trilogy is present throughout the record. Sunglasses Kid can easily be considered one of the veterans of the scene so it comes as a surprise this is actually his first album (he did release a bunch of EPs before).
One standout thing about the album is the sheer number of guests: from Phaserland to D/A/D, almost every track is a collab. The tracks on the album are quite varied, with vocal tracks featuring (again) the likes of Miranda Carey taking turns with instrumental cuts full of retro verve. Indeed there is almost not one „downer“ track on the album (except maybe Runaway), which has the effect of every track sounding slightly similar.
But those looking for a slice of genuinely well-produced retro nostalgia without subversion or a lot of personal reinterpretation won't mind. The record does provide a couple of moments that bring a smile to your face: one is the incredibly fun rap on the second track '80's Baby' with Rhyme Time and Geneva referencing everything good about the decade that inspires us all.
Another one is the earworm-y ‘Can't Hide’ with Carey on vocals with its killer hook in the chorus, while the standout track for me is Bitter Reaction. It manages to surprise with its really, really bubbly chorus that will inject a good dose of dopamine into your day, no matter how grey it was.
Unfortunately, despite the unquestionable musicianship and mad producer skills, compared to his contemporaries in the pop/dreamwave genre, such as Timecop 1983 or Satori in Bed, Sunglasses Kid doesn't achieve something wholly of its own.
While Timecop 1983's stripped compositions often teeter both on the bitter and sweet side, and Satori in Bed infuses his productions with enough of his own personality, Graduation doesn't go that extra mile. As such, it's a testament to Kid's prowess behind the synth and the mixing knobs, but doesn't provide enough material to call it exactly memorable.
Still, in times when optimistic and romantic synthwave is slightly given the back seat, it's important to have someone representing it with a solid record. Anyone looking for a potent ride through the familiar 80's retro tropes will enjoy this record a lot.