Alright, let’s be clear here: We Were Lovers are working in a crowded genre. Reason and Ableton Live have put 90% of those bloopy bass synths and bright faux-string pads into the hands of anyone with a somewhat modern computer, so it’s easy to hear “synth pop” and turn a deaf ear. Don’t do that this time, Pyramids is really good.

The duo hits on some of the coolest things in music today: retro-sounding synthesizers with painfully long release times, girl vocals, extended denouements, drum machines (from 606-909, naturally), funky electric bass played with a pick… There’s so much to appreciate here, without even mentioning just how fantastic those girl vocals are: Elsa Gebremichael’s formidable voice powers through the chimes and busy hi-hats, stealing attention from the funky productions. Coupled with a strong beat and a rubbery bassline, she’s downright unstoppable. Ash Lamothe’s instrumentation dips and weaves around Gebremichael’s voice, ranging from laidback pseudo-tropical grooves on “Islands” to sweaty blacklight party beats on “Dream Invaders.”

Everything has that unmistakable eighties shimmer to it, the product of plate reverbs and a generous compressor, and it all sounds wonderful. Any clown can make the sounds these days but songs this good require love and dedication.

By John Julius

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