This is the Nina album to obtain if you’re a synthwave or synthpop fan. Recommended.
Written by: gdmonline
LABEL: Aztec Records
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England, Germany
LINEUP: Nina Boldt – vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Beyond Memory * 02 Born To Live * 03 Sleepwalking * 04 It Kills Me * 05 Purple Sun * 06 Empire Of Love * 07 Diamonds In The Rough * 08 One Of Us * 09 Counting Stars * 10 Your Truth * 11 80’s Girl
Nina Boldt is a well-known name on the synthwave scene, having left her native Berlin for London, and then collaborating on many projects before the release of ‘Sleepwalking’ during 2018. Her first recordings go back to 2011, being the EP ‘Take Me Away’, this was followed by several singles and EPs but her first full length album was this one.
Nina is affectionately known by her fans as the queen of synthwave. That statement might very well be true because I have yet to see another woman who has an equal or greater online profile than our lovely German friend. I’ve had the ‘Sleepwalking’ album in my collection for ages, but have only recently gotten around to it due to my renewed interest in synthwave during early 2023. My bad.
Dreamy synth work introduces ‘Beyond Memory’ before the pulsing oscillators kick in, but it’s the velvet vocal of Nina that is the icing on the cake. Structure wise it compares easily to Timecop1983. Nice start. The tempo and structure is similar on ‘Born To Live’, the chorus though us a magical melting moment. The title track ‘Sleepwalking’ soon follows, the tempo slightly accelerated, which gives this one greater appeal. Check the video below.
‘It Kills Me’ is a pop ballad with bittersweet lyrics but without so much of the synthwave influence, however it is gorgeous nonetheless, especially those fluttering keyboards and synth parts. ‘Purple Sun’ presents another perspective from the Nina songbook, the mid-tempo near balladry is soaked in lyrical emotive elements while the music is soaked in reverb and ambience. ‘Empire Of Love’ is a lively affair, melodic as ever and as close as synthwave comes to AOR.
‘Diamonds In The Rough’ slows up things once more, it has all the appearances of an epic ballad, the vocals given the absolute wet reverb treatment. In another earlier decade, if Irish songbird Enya had discovered synthwave, then this is what it would’ve sounded like. ‘One Of Us’ has a rock backbone, no doubt due to the guitar work and the delay pedals in use. Yet another arrow to Nina’s quiver.
‘Counting Stars’ is more of a breathy vocal workout, the slower tempo the ideal method to present this lush and airy song. ‘Your Truth’ gets the metronome going again, I’m sure this would come across as an ideal live track. ’80’s Girl’ is as chronologically challenged as you would expect. Wind the clock back to the very early era of Madonna when she actually meant something to make a suitable comparison.
Following this effort, Nina has released two further albums, both in 2020 called ‘Synthian’ and ‘The Beginning’, we might get to these for review purposes in the future. In the meantime, Ms Boldt remains active with a series of collaborations right up until 2022. But this is the Nina album to obtain if you’re a synthwave or synthpop fan. Recommended.
Diamonds In The Rough