Without much pomp, but with a lot of anticipation by synth wave connoisseurs around the world, the Israeli retro wave producer Alex Karlinsky a.k.a. Highway Superstar dropped his debut album ‘Take My Time’ on 21 December 2013.

Released under the veritable stronghold of synth wave production, the Rosso Corsa label (Miami Nights 1984, Lazerhawk, Mitch Murder), it shares many of the most infectious aural traits with the label peers, but with enough personality and innovation to set itself as one of its prominent acts.

The production values soar high on this release which would fit perfectly somewhere in mid-1984. The choice of adding vocals to 3 out of 10 tracks (not counting the closing remix) means that the record takes off from the well-established blueprint of purely instrumental nostalgia-heavy soundscape and crosses with one (dancing) foot into the realm of pure 80s new wave/pop.

Let’s take a closer look at the album track-by-track:

The opening track features the soulful and sensual vocals of Toronto’s Dana Jean Phoenix. This is a classic, 80s nostalgia power song that would feel right at home in the opening sequence of Action Jackson. Dana Jean’s delivery is rich and the super sticky chorus evokes a lot of 80s zeitgeist.

2) Boardwalk Sunset

Just like its title, this is a pure mix of euphoria and melancholy that features prominently in the works of Rosso Corsa’s flagship artists. The uplifting sax and the percussion fuse deliciously with the wistful synth strings, just like you’d like them to.

3) All Around The World

Heavily syncopated beats blend nicely with the bells before the surprise kicks in: this is another track with singing. In this case, Who Ha borrows his emotional and shrill vocals and the effect is very reminiscent of the early Tears for Fears or even Duran Duran. A standout track that will keep you guessing.

The album’s eponymous track is another foray into the territory of mid 80s power pop and what a blast it is. The synths are layered thick and topped with an edgy guitar solo but the best part is the duet between Dana Jean Phoenix and Chris Page. Chris sounds a bit like Anoraak on his last album Chronotropic in verses and that is a good thing but it’s the couple’s palpable chemistry that really shapes the track.

5) Dialtones

Dialtones is a prototypical haunting and suspenseful Outrun electro track. It doesn’t really break the mold but is exciting enough and will have you imagining untold stories of crime investigations, computer hacking and phone tapping.

6) 10-80

Another archetypal neo 80s track that perhaps sounds like a bonus track from the electro powerhouse Kavinsky’s OutRun release. Sure, it might not be ‘Nightcall’, but it’s a solid addition to the sub-sub-genre that can be best described as “road wave”.

7) Them or Us

Highway Superstar cranks up the tension on this one to the max with some interesting synth choices but the overall impression is somewhat too generic. Possibly the album’s weakest link.

8) Camaro 86

Nothing outstanding here, but still a great track to daydream about days spent playing Sega Genesis driving games long past or something fast to pull off that last stretch on your gym’s treadmill.

9) Syndicate

The tempo slows down and your mind’s eye fills up with images of a smoky disco, dark & wet streets of a megalopolis and lots of neon clothing and make-up. Still there’s enough optimism and hope in this track to close out the album with a good vibe.

10) Take My Time (Tommy Remix)

Tommy manages to completely redefine the mood of the album’s third track with this slow dance rearrangement. All of the two vocalists’ synergy is retained but the overall feel is more ethereal and delicate. A very successful reimagining and a great last track.

Article written by

FIlip Galetic