Bananarama (with whom we recently spoke) dive headfirst into the world of synth-pop that they helped create 40 years ago (before the ’00s revival and subsequent ’80s synthwave worship that persists into our current Stranger Things-obsessed era). There’s something very rewarding about sitting down to a recent offering from such an established duo and finding an exciting mix of retro roots paired with contemporary production and influences.

On Masquerade, the synth forms a centrepiece for each song, around which percussion and vocals wind upward like a caduceus of sonic epiphany. Album opener “Favourite” starts with an energy that never leaves throughout the rest of the album. Coupled with contemporary R&B vocal hooks, violin strings and vocoding, it revs the engine and continues full throttle into the suitably titled “Stay Wild.” From there, the dance continues at a tempo, never letting up, instead hanging on to its ravaged listener like a wild lover.

On that note, the lyrics are focused on love in all of its wildest forms: wanted, tainted, and not yet realized: the perfect heady mix of tragedy, hope, and comedy. It’s a perfect tripartite theme for an album titled “Masquerade,” itself being an apt description for a band that leans heavily into its storied reputation for personality by way of synth-pop. With such a catalogue of absolute classics in their past (“Venus”? “Cruel Summer”?), it’s no small wonder that the duo has leaned into their dance sensibilities to ensure they continue the verve for a world that finds itself clawing its way back into normality following a seemingly endless pandemic.

It’s a fun record, brimming with energy and vitality. Clocking in at a lean 39 minutes, it eschews indulgent melodrama or soporific ballads. Instead, Masquerade whirls in the grips of ecstatic celebration and performance, locked into its adulation of synth-wrought magnanimity. It’s a welcome record for the top-down road trips and beach parties in which we’ve got mere weeks left to indulge.

Bananarama by In Synk

Masquerade Track Listing:

1. Favourite
2. Stay Wild
3. Velvet Lies
4. Masquerade
5. Running With The Night
6. Bad Love
7. Let’s Go Outside
8. Brand New
9. Need A Little More
10. Forever Young
11. Waiting For The Sun To Shine

Run Time: 39:01
Release Date: July 22, 2022
Record Label: In Synk