Dana Jean Phoenix & Powernerd, “Megawave”
By Samuel Tornow · April 22, 2020 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl Box Set, Cassette

On Megawave, Toronto synth-siren Dana Jean Phoenix and Vienna-based band Powernerd join forces, unleashing every trick in their collective arsenal. Long filter sweeps, fat square-wave basslines, infectious choruses, and head-spinning solos—it’s all there. On Megawave, Phoenix and Powernerd cherry-pick techniques from the history of synth-based dance music, from the iconic sound of French house to the hazy beats of future funk. Each track oozes colorful synth harmonics, resulting in an insanely fun, constantly-thumping, dopamine rush of a record. 

The thing that separates Phoenix from her synthwave contemporaries are her vocals. In a genre that tends to rely on warped samples, it’s refreshing to hear her relatively unaltered voice soaring over the dazzling melodies; it takes music that could be either robotic or nostalgic and makes it feel human. Take the album’s title track, which gently rises and falls, peaking around Phoenix’s proclamation of, “Our love’s a megawave,” over a groovy mallet beat. Later in the record, Phoenix and Powernerd tap New Arcades and Straplocked for remixes of “Figure Me Out” and the comical “Fight These Robots;” Straplocked ups the ante with a roomy mix, a tempo bump, and thumping percussion for ominous oomph. By tempering synthwave’s nostalgic largesse with dynamic range and emotional nuance, Phoenix and Powernerd unearth the subtleties embedded within the subgenre’s neon-lit spectacle—a strong foundation befitting a leveled-up sound.

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