Three years after the [synth]poppy World Fameless, Tampa synthrock artist Ghostfeeder has released Star Beast, an 80s video game-inspired collection of cyberpunk jams to share with your loved ones. While World Fameless had a certain tight, polished restraint to it, Star Beast lives up to its name and possesses a raw, untamable quality. “Veins” is an epic synthpop anthem that showcases an emotional and catchy chorus reminiscent of mid-2000s indie pop, with a slick edge to it inspired by 80s hard rock.
“Shakespeare Empathy” starts out with disarmingly pretty synths and affected vocals, building to another big chorus, this time hooking us with the drums and vocoder. In fact, if you’re looking for an album built around sick synth riffs, you’ll love this one; it manages to maintain its impact and that epic quality, even when the tempo drops. “Paralyzed” is another standout with its simple but effective lead line weaving through the verses. “You feel so good to me/I don’t think you’d believe/I wanna crawl into your skin/And pull you over me,” he croons against fat square waves and gritty electronic drums. The title track creates instant nostalgia for the late 80s, to the point where you can almost feel your thumbs cramping from so many hours of Tetris on your Gameboy. It’s a spacey and dreamy instrumental with lush synths and thick reverb on the drums.
The last track, “Heaven,” is a love song with all the hallmarks of an 80s ballad brought into modern times: the gated snare and Phil Collins-esque tom fills, the warbling chorus pads and singalong chorus, and a melody that is equal parts hope and melancholy. “Let’s let the night decide the last time we’re alive/Should the dawn not arrive,” he sings, with all the fervor of early 2000s emo or pop-punk, but with the sincerity of true despair for a dystopian future. If you find indie-pop too twee and futurepop too inhuman or brutal, Star Beast offers a perfect middle ground.