The synth/darkwave scene is a genre, unfortunately, wrought with utter derivatives. Wading through the many generic goth acts that clog up Bandcamp is always worth the drudgery when discovering a Sixth June, SDH, and now, Riki.
Riki, the alias of L.A. artist and former Crimson Scarlet member Niff Nawor, swiftly cemented herself as an exciting new figure in the synthpop world with 2018’s Hot City E.P. and a string of support slots with Black Marble and Light Asylum. Teaming up with INHALT’s Matia Simovich for production duties, Riki’s affection for Neue Deutsche Welle , Italo disco and new wave pop have been poured into a bright debut album with an irresistibly lean, bold, and muscular sound.
The punch of a processed orchestral hit opens Riki, first track ‘Strohmann’ drenched in deeply satisfying ZTT Records style bombast, the pop of the snare and bassy throb leaping straight out of Trevor Horn’s E-Mu Emulator library. Its propulsive rhythm glides effortlessly with Riki’s understated vocals examining projected love onto the titular ‘Strawman’. ‘Napoleon’ is a fittingly confident and strident love letter to the French emperor that rushes to a stirring romance with unashamed killer pop hooks and Some Great Reward era production.
The weighty heft that leads the album is afforded moments of respite. The gorgeously seductive ‘Spirit of Love’ effortlessly pulses with delicate sequencers and brittle but infectious minimalism. Contemplative menace is channelled on the passionate ‘Böse Lügen’, a stirring tale of disenchantment sung entirely in German and a showcase of just how rousing Riki’s voice can be.
There is not a shred of irony or acerbity to be found on Riki, every moment is grounded in sincerity to make honest to god pop which excites the soul. Rich, decadent, and deeply romantic, Riki’s debut album is a fantastic conjuring of 80s pop while cutting a voice entirely her own.