2023 – Songs Of The Year

A year in music…

2023 saw a good combination of legacy acts and new outfits delivering some amazing music across the year. It was also a period in which electronic music was given another opportunity to demonstrate how broad a church it actually is, whether your tastes were for synth-pop, ambient electronic, dark pop or even folk-inspired.

Here, we round up a selection of tracks that captured the spirit of 2023 for The Electricity Club…

OMD – Bauhaus Staircase

OMD’s Bauhuas Staircase album (see review) marked one of the year’s most outstanding releases – and the title track was one of its strong points.

‘Bauhuas Staircase’ is an unashamedly zippy electronic pop effort with classic 808 drums that offers up a glorious lyrical celebration of art and culture via lines such as “All the world needs art and passion”. The release was also accompanied by a stunningly-realised video that emphasises the song’s themes, while also providing a visual feast with plenty of subtle OMD nods.


2020’s Mercurial album (see TEC review) served up some much-needed euphoric electropop, while also demonstrating the considerable talents of Elisabeth Elektra.

Since then, Elektra has been keeping busy with collaborative outfit Silver Moth while also plotting Mercurial’s long-awaited follow-up. The first taste of that arrived with ‘The Dream’, a driving synth-powered affair that seems to throw a nod to Mecurial’s anthemic ‘My Sisters’. The song’s themes apparently revolve around “the initiatory nature of relationship breakdowns that often culminate in increased personal power and connection to and expression of ones true will.”

Compared to her earlier work, there’s something more muscular at work here which is captured in the song’s percussive drive and Elektra’s anthemic mantra.

PROMENADE CINEMA – Alone at Parties

Promenade Cinema rarely disappoint and this follow-up to their earlier Dark Designs EP showcases the darkpop duo at their strengths.

‘Alone at Parties’ breathes with a brooding energy that sparkles with its airy synth melodies. Meanwhile, Emma Barson’s cathartic vocals lend a voice to all those people who have found themselves lost at parties (“In a room full of strangers, without a sign of a friend”). It’s an instantly catchy number and also a perfect rallying anthem for outsiders.

KAT BRYAN – Armour

The goth-pop musings of Kat Bryan served up the excellent 2022 debut Music For The End Of The World in which the TEC review suggested that it invited “the listener to expand their musical boundaries” with its darker, more soulful electronic explorations. ‘Armour’ is a lead-on from that debut and is taken from Bryan’s new EP Luna.

Describing the track, Bryan suggests that ‘Armour’ is an “anthem for reclaiming your life” typified by its percussive elements with some tactile electronic melodies dotted around the edges. Lines such as “It’s not armour I’m wearing now/It’s a cage” are quite revealing and shows Bryan again dabbling in themes of reflection and doubt, yet always with the sense of moving beyond those themes to positions of strength.

SCENIUS – Chinese Room

Scenius (aka Steve Whitfield and French singer Fabrice Nau) served up the sensual ‘Chinese Room’ in 2023, which boasts angular, electronic pop that can be dark and brooding yet also emotive and captivating. Meanwhile, there’s a distinct Kraftwerkian element lurking at the heart of this composition, albeit with more of an electro-groove quality present. Big, dramatic synth tones feature prominently, but it’s Fabrice Nau’s languid vocal delivery that weaves a particular magic on lines such as “A darker scheme/A black hole fiend”.

As a duo, Scenius do a superb job at drawing connections between the classic synth-pop era and a more contemporary sound. The dreamlike moods of ‘Chinese Room’ serves as a perfect showcase for the whole Scenius package.

LEATHERS – Fascination

Vancouver electronic outfit ACTORS have become one of the most talked about bands on the scene in recent years, particularly on the back of 2021 album Acts of Worship. Shannon Hemmett, who is usually on keyboards duties for ACTORS, has also branched off into her own musical venture under the guise of LEATHERS.

‘Fascination’ followed on from the sublime ‘Highrise’, released earlier this year. The new track has a suave, dark quality to it that at times suggests a combo of the discopop of Goldfrapp meets the dry synth-pop stylings of Client. ‘Fascination’ makes smart and minimal use of words (“Fascinating, Elevating, Make believe”) to craft an effective lounge pop mood.

BOO – Unbecoming

There’s often a strange alchemy involved with compositions crafted by Battery Operated Orchestra showing a clear love of analogue synths combined with a raw, garage-electro quality. Yet at the same time, there’s an evocative, heartfelt element lurking at the heart of their music. Consisting of Chris Black and Brigitte Rose, over time BOO have conjured up a fine catalogue of work that includes the 2011 cover of ‘He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)’ through to the Germanic euphoria of 2016’s ‘Radiation’, the dreampop electro of 2018’s ‘Bella’ and the hypnotic mood of ‘The Dissolve’ in 2020.

Compulsory Games represents the duo’s fifth album (following on from 2020’s Yesterday Tomorrow and You and BOO compilation WE ARE GHOSTS) and is described as an album that “explores our complicity with power and throws a wry smile at the games we’re forced to play every day.”

The easy-going ‘Unbecoming’ offers one of the album’s understated gems with its mesmerising vocal melodies resonating with the bell-like synth rhythms.


Listening to this new outing by Susanne Sundfør, it’s clear that her musical trajectory has been aiming towards more of a folk tradition (something that her last album Music for People in Trouble was clearly leaning into).

‘Alyosha’ is simply a joyous and optimistic number that serves as the perfect antidote for the current depressing news cycle. In fact, the lyrics are pointedly a reaction against a sense of pessimism and lack of empathy that seems to be in vogue. “Love has died and all is worthless/But that is not what I believe in” suggests Sundfør in this gentle, lilting number. The easy piano and guitar fills are backed up with some warm electronic washes resulting in a definite musical palette cleanser.


Darkwave pop outfit Magnetic Skies consists of Simon Kent (vocals), Jo Womar (keyboards), Carlos Aguilar (guitars) and Lenin Alegria (drums). Their particular approach to synth-pop delights has enjoyed critical acclaim, particularly for the power pop of ‘You Shine On’.

Their latest outing comes in the form of the anthemic ‘Suffocate’ (culled from excellent album Empire Falling), which provides a yearning synth-powered delight. Simon Kent’s vocal delivery has a beguiling, understated power here, giving lines such as “I believed in you until every dream drifted out of view” a dark, romantic flourish. ‘Suffocate’ presents an iridescent slice of dark pop wonder.

SLOWDIVE – alife

While Slowdive might not be your typical electronic band of choice, it’s worth noting that their 1995 album Pygmalion took a sharp left-turn from their shoegaze territory to play around with minimalist electronica. Since their self-titled 2017 return, Slowdive have demonstrated that they’re a band capable of surprises. Their music still captures that ethereal quality of their classic period, yet also manages to sound fresh and contemporary at the same time.

New track ‘alife’ throws a nod to Pygmalion albeit with a more breezy, rythmic sensibility. It also presents something of a nod to their Mojave 3 days with a gritty quality to their lyrical narratives (“Time has got me somehow”).

Honourable Mentions

DEPECHE MODE – Ghosts Again, NADIA VANG – Blue Eyes, NOSTALGIA DEATHSTAR – Oath of Allegiance, SPRAY – The Big Idea (Remix), DEAD LIGHTS – I Am Electric, KUNT – Jericho Stand, LADYTRON – City Of Angels, BLACK NAIL CABARET – Autogenic.