This is my first look at the Spanish synthwave project At 1980.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: At 1980
ALBUM: A Thousand Lives
LABEL: New Retro Wave
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Spain, England
LINEUP: Adrian Quesada Michelena – all instruments, production * Josh Dally – vocals, production
TRACK LISTING: 01 A Thousand Lives * 02 In The Air * 03 Missing You * 04 Have A Heart * 05 Oblivion * 06 Play It (On The Radio) * 07 Now * 08 Drifting Away * 09 Run Away * 10 Neon Sun
This is my first look at the Spanish synthwave project At 1980. Don’tcha love the way they name some of these projects using references to our favorite decade of music? Lol. In fact, Adrian Quesada Michelena – produced much of the album except for the second track ‘In The Air’ where he has co-opted production to Timecop1983‘s Jordy Lennaerts, and though it has similarities to the Dutch synthwave figurehead, At 1980 keeps more to the commercial side of the boulevard with vocals and pop melodies at the core.
Michelena has also bought in pinch hitter Josh Dally to add his vocals to many of the songs on display here, Dally has made many appearances on other synthwave projects so is well known throughout the genre.
Two other female vocalists are employed too. Dana Jean Phoenix can be heard on the opening title track ‘A Thousand Lives’. She’s also widely heard on other synthwave projects. French actress and singer Camille Glémet features on the lush slow burn of ‘Run Away’. A super late night excursion if I’ve ever heard in this genre.
Two other highlights are the pairing of ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Play It On The Radio’. These four songs are probably the sound that At 1980 should’ve anchored themselves on, rather than the ill-advised ‘cover all bases’ approach.
Unfortunately, many of the other songs veer toward the trance/pop genre of the early 2000s such as ‘Missing You’ which could’ve been lifted from Cher‘s trancey/dancey’ Believe’ era, though I’m not sure that’s a ringing endorsement. ‘Have A Heart’ does even worse, dipping it’s feet into early 2000’s era boy band territory. The instrumental ‘Neon Sun’ was totally aimless, while the acoustic rock of ‘Drifting Away’ seemed entirely out of place on an album like this.
The contents of this album are a mixed bag. Part pop, part dance/trance, part synthwave. The mix is very unbalanced, leaving you to ponder what’s going on here. It started out OK, but upon deeper inspection failed to live up to expectations.
The album was self released by Michelena in 2019 before being picked up NWR Records the following year. There were numerous digital singles which also came out in 2021 plus the accompanying videos put up on YouTube. 2021 also saw the release of the second full length At 1980 album ‘Late Night Calls’ where Michelena and Dally have once again done all the heavy lifting. At some stage we might write something about that album but upon listening to this effort, my taste buds have been spoiled..
A Thousand Lives (with Dana Jean Phoenix)
Play It (On The Radio)
Have A Heart
Run Away (with Camille Glémet)