Safe From Harm
Synth-pop’s been having a hot moment for some time, receiving an additional bump from the mass fascination with all things ’80s (Stranger Things, anyone?). Luckily, the trendy wave is washing some interesting things ashore, like the London-based duo Empathy Test. Old friends Isaac Howlett and Adam Relf came together in 2013 and decided to brew a sound that embodied 1980s dance grooves, favorite soundtracks and their shared love of sci-fi, with the result being synthy pop of the sweetest kind. Safe From Harm sits in the easy-listening-pop pocket, with modest synth textures layered over perfectly placed percussive pulses. The duo does a nice job of blending new and old; “By My Side” soars into a falsetto chorus, while “Seeing Stars” has a melancholy yet upbeat ’80s neon feel. Bonus fact: This is one of two albums released simultaneously. So, if ya like it, check out Safe From Harm’s partner, Losing Touch.