Nuovo Testamento’s Love Lines Brings Back The Melancholic Beauty Of 80s Synthpop
The band’s latest album is a bold and inventive take on classic synthpop, reminding us of 80s music’s enduring appeal.
Love Lines by transnational synthpop group Nuovo Testamento is a perfect 80s-inspired album that provides the perfect mix of happy and sad that defined the era. On first listen, Love Lines is an immediately strong album with every track hitting the same levels of quality as its first single “Hurt”. The album is very pure in its own way, with the group sticking to the classic sounds of the decade involving synths, pads, and drum machines. This could have restricted them, yet it has proven to be a creative challenge and they show how the simple addition of inventive beats and arrangements like the pulsing bass at the beginning of “Heat” can make all the difference.
One great example of this is the arrangement of the eponymous “Love Lines” where a hypnotic, falling synth riff is layered over a sparse yet irresistibly catchy drum beat. Musically, the album is persistently upbeat throughout but touches like these make it both danceable and highly listenable with an ambiguity of emotions that keeps it resonant. And Nuovo Testamento is a uniquely poised group to handle this.
Formed currently of Chelsey Crowley, Andrea Mantione, and Giacomo Zatti, the group is split between LA and Bologna. Although they are partly influenced by Italo disco, they are made up of members who have various other projects going on, ranging from dark punk to hardcore. Their latest album was produced by Maurizio Baggio, who has previously lent his touch to the much more heavily horror-oriented act Boy Harsher. Meanwhile, Nuovo Testamento’s first EP, Exposure, was a celebration of coldwave that was more dark and gritty compared to the lighter and more upbeat Love Lines.
Tracks like “Get Closer” grab your attention with a strong, dramatic verse melody that perfectly works with synth-pop. However, it could just as easily stand out in a goth or post-punk group, perhaps when slowed down or against a different arrangement. These touches also act as a foil to, and complement, more upbeat features in pieces like “Heartbeat” – a more classically pop-oriented track – proving the versatility of the decade if any proof was needed. It’s yet another reminder of the reasons it has become so popular to revive in the digital age. However, taking that versatility and knowing how to translate it from sound into emotion is a tougher feat. The band has risen to it in Love Lines with offerings like “Perfect Storm” – where melodic tension and release as well as an ethereal, rising riff sweep the listener up in the headiness of new love and seduction.
If there’s any sentiment the LP as a whole pins down, it’s how the greatest feelings of happiness don’t come from everything going perfectly but from risk and unpredictability in love. The video for “Heartbeat”, reminda one of an innocent age dedicated to freedom, youth, parties, and dreams that has been transported to the cynicism of 21st-century LA. Yet, the first lyric – “I made it out alive” keeps these things feeling poignant. It’s ultimately this that Nuovo Testamento does so well in Love Lines – capturing the fun-loving nature of the times whilst acknowledging that the era’s ideals of dreaming can be all too ephemeral.
Nevertheless, the summery atmosphere of “Heartbeat” comes with a lust for life that is truly refreshing, especially as music becomes increasingly one of a few ways to stave off growing anxiety and uneasiness. It could not be more different from the place Nuovo Testamento started as a band, but it can’t be denied that to do both spine-chilling coldwave and classic synthpop with the same amount of flair takes a special grasp of melody, rhythm, and emotion.
In short, Love Lines is a perfect collection of 80s synthpop that benefits from musicians with a background not just in darkness and light but in multiple shades of grey. Nuovo Testamento has managed to hit all the points that made the 80s a great decade for music whilst still adding their own quirks that make each track very distinctive. Moreover, they remind us why the genre is seeing a revival, summing up ambiguous moods in a way that isn’t often offered in contemporary pop.
Nuovo Testamento (US)
Featured Image by Yvette Aispuro & Silvia Polmonari