The New Self-Titled Album by Nicky Flowers Is a Synthwave Joy

Several years ago, Kittysneezes gave a glowing review to the debut Cassette Fighter EP. Cassette Fighter is no more, but one-half of the duo, Nicky Flowers, has been releasing music on their own Bandcamp page for a while know. (You might be most familiar with their remix of the Wii Shop theme.) And if you’re a fan of synthpop, synthwave or any other genre with “synth” in the name, you should be all over Nicky Flowers.

Nicky Flowers headshot
Nicky Flowers, the artist, not the album.

Nicky Flowers combines a number of related genres — in addition to the two synth-genres listed, there’s flavors of bedroom pop, vaporwave, 8-bit and more. But the album isn’t derivative; Flowers mixes the genres and takes them to new places. Where Vaporwave is more atmospheric, Nicky Flowers is full of hooks and wonderful melodies. Where 8-bit sounds like the best Nintendo has to offer, Flowers instead gives their work a full, lush sound. Being mostly instrumental (with the occasionally distorted lyric line), it’s more about the sounds they create than most synthpop, yet not nearly as dark as most synthwave.

While Flowers’ work is cohesive, it never becomes monotonous. “Dreams of You” is, as the name suggests, beautifully dreamy, where “Omnifeel” is brighter, showcasing the trebly sounds of the omnichord. Samples play with each other, though the majority of any spoken or sung words on the album are distorted as to be nearly indecipherable, as on “It Makes My Head Spin,” giving an alien quality to an otherwise pretty melody. This distortion adds a sense of mystery — yet not really in a foreboding sense. The occasional snatch of intelligible English breaks through, anchoring the listener — but still keeping them intrigued as they try to piece together the vague glimpses at meaning.

Though I can’t drive, I imagine Nicky Flowers would make great driving music. There’s almost a soundtrack-esque quality to the music. “Erosion,” in particular, feels like a lonely road trip along an empty beachfront at 3:00 in the morning.
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If Cassette Fighter hinted at great things, this album is the culmination of all that potential. Nicky Flowers deserves to be heard, because as soon as you hear it, you’ll want to hear more. And at only 30 minutes, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a masterfully crafted slice of synthy joy.

Listen to Nicky Flowers below:

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