Album Review

“Forgive Yourself”

by: Luxury Noise

Written By: Soft Replica

Published: September 6, 2023

Album released: August 11, 2023


Chopped drum breaks.

Pads thick as molasses.

Sprawling instrumentation.

Intricate production flourishes.

Vocal vignettes blurring the line between human and synthetic.

Ubiquitous samples that are timelessly musical (loon and shakuhachi lovers rejoice).

Now that you understand how Denver producer Luxury Noise’s debut full-length Forgive Yourself sounds, I would ask how you imagine the album feels. If your answer is “a contemplative journey exploring both the darkness and euphoria of self-healing”, I would be surprised. And then I’d ask if you’d already heard the record.

One of the most compelling aspects of Forgive Yourself is the contradiction between the vibrancy of the sonic palette it uses, and the hazy landscape it conjures. Like a carnival covered in fog, Luxury Noise continually indulges the senses with downright impressive production chops, sparkling melodies, and sweeping soundscapes. Yet, despite the spectacle, he never offers the cheap satisfaction of revealing exactly where you are. While the multi-faceted blend of house rhythms, IDM dazzle, and vaporbreak warmth is what will draw many listeners in, what will keep listeners coming back is surely Luxury Noise’s ability to explore a range of emotional arcs.

“Big Maybes” opens the record, and stands as one of the strongest tracks. Scenically wide pads, sustained cathartic vocals, and expertly manipulated drum breaks combine to form what is the most euphoric five minutes of the album.

      “Onmymind” artwork (single version)

Directly after, “Onmymind” gradually builds into a cavernous club soundscape no less impressive than the opener, but distinctly more groovy and fog-enshrouded. The titular vocal sample and an intoxicatingly simple saxophone lick take turns coloring the space atop a stout acid bassline. Once again, Luxury Noise’s keen sense of musical direction and sound production is on full display, and the album begins with unwavering confidence. 

Afterward, things wind down into a suite of more contemplative and understated mood pieces that nonetheless offer compelling variety. “Kori” at last pushes the throbbing basslines and IDM-influenced drum samples to the forefront, while “Devotional” comes to a crawl with the most gorgeously melancholic atmosphere yet. “Variable Midlives” shows the return of subtle yet perfectly placed woodwind drones, followed by a downtempo movement so sedative that it could put you under if not for the level of glitchy intricacy within the song’s whitespaces.

The album then reaches peak warmth with track 8, “slowbliss”. The elaborate microrhythms and granular sample slices, now all but expected, are momentarily cast aside to make way for a digital wall of sound, fit for the song’s title. During this piece especially, one must appreciate how much texture and depth Luxury Noise fits into the mix without sacrificing clarity. The record is misty and introspective by design, but the haze that it casts is by no means colorless or ill-defined. 

Cassette release (via Pacific Plaza Records)

As the album arrives at its closing passages, both “Goodbyes” and “Threads” further lay out open spaces to reflect, despite the crisp details hidden under the surface. The title track, and fittingly the final one, then kicks us back to uptempo territory. Yet, even with the gear shift, the piece still feels firmly stuck just beneath the ever-present gloom, not quite reaching the highs of the opening song. 

While the three closing tracks admittedly leave some climatic closure to be desired, they are preceded by “Esther”, an unmistakable high point. It’s also the song that most embodies the colorful-yet-opaque, frenetic-yet-anesthetic dichotomies at the core of Forgive Yourself. Despite the high BPM –one of the highest on the record in fact– it contradictorily carries an almost leisurely aura, like an explosion seemingly captured in slow motion. That is, until the second half when the beat plunges into half time and you realize you truly are in slow motion. All the while, Luxury Noise’s arsenal is on full display: glistening melodies glide above snippets of evocative vocals, a striking array of rhythmic layers, and ear candy fit for an hour of repeat listens. 

It takes only a minute’s runtime to understand that Luxury Noise is no stranger to both the technical and emotional sides of music. Following 2022’s Second Light as well as The Light at a Certain Hour –two stellar EPs in their own rights– Forgive Yourself at last presents Luxury Noise the chance to pull out all the stops and make a complete artistic statement in the way that only an LP can offer. And an artistic statement it is, indeed. The album is not only introspective in theme, but also seems to show a self-reflection on the artist’s long and varied career itself, letting all past explorations culminate into a cohesive whole. As beautiful as the “what was” may be for many of us, Forgive Yourself delivers a compelling reminder to appreciate and enjoy the “what is”.


Favorite Tracks: Big Maybes, Esther, slowbliss

Soft Replica


Copy Editing By: Gbanas92



Utopia District Podcast

Episode 012

Vaporwave New York Take Over!

An ElectroniCON3 & Tape Swap 3 Recap


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Catch us in our  Discord  server to join in on the fun! 👉 


ElectroniCON is an incredibly important event for the vaporwave and adjacent communities. Presented by George Clanton of 100% Electronica, ElectroniCON 3 was a pilgrimage that brought vaporwave fans together from all over the globe, to Brooklyn NY on August 20th, 2022. Today, one month later, we sit down to reminisce on the fantastical experience of the 2022 New York Vaporwave Community Weekend, including the Tape Swap 3 presented by Utopia District, Club Genki presented by Pacific Plaza Records and Pocari Sweat, and Vaporspace Invaders presented by Vaporspace StL. Join us as we wallow through our memories and video footage of this amazing weekend.

Episode Discussion Topics

Tape Swap 3 & ElectroniCON3 all-videos playlist!

Tape Swap 3 VOD – Hangout and featuring Golden Living Room, JPEGSTRIPES, Videopunks

Augnos’ Full Community Weekend Photo Set (Massive Thread)

Utopia District Poster – Community Signatures Photo

Vaporwave Name Tags by Allure Artworks

Nostalgia Salon

Cerulea Scents

Brass Fair Mall – Photo / Soundcloud

Pad Chennington Weekend Recap Video

Awesome Community Tweets & Photos – Fountain Photo Bomb, Indy Painting Tape Swap Walls, Dan Mason “Where is everyone?!?”, Poland Spring – The New Flavor of Vaporwave, Desert Sand Photo, Pizza Slut Photoshopped, Chris Vaporwave, Distracted DATAGIRL

Explaining the Decks Meme > Vaporwave?, Amen Break, Flash Drives, Fireball, LordDepis Illustration, Skylar Spence, Yung Shiro DJ Screw, gh0st “Please stop fighting!”


Vaporwave Tape Swap 3 Poster (by JavaPlaza)


Vaporwave New York 2022 Community Weekend Map (by JavaPlaza)


Team Members on this episode!

DemoDawg :

Prenoko :

strip_silence :

Siphonophore AV :

C A S I N O :

Pizza :



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Album Review

 Male Tears
By: Male Tears

Written by: Gbanas92 & IndyAdvant 

While this new self-titled release may technically be the third album under Male Tears’ belt, it does in many ways represent a debut. What originally began as a solo act — under which the albums Endless Tears and Artism reside — is now a duo as Mister Mellow joins up, and the sound of the group has shifted and changed to reflect this new formula. While Male Tears remains at its core a synthpop outfit, there is now a greater representation of sounds, of styles, and most importantly, of personality.

Album Art By GRYFF

Right out of the gate, the opening track, “Chained Up” is able to evoke the greatest acts of the new wave. If that’s a genre or sound you’ve grown up on or just grown fond of, the influence is immediately apparent. But this is no mere copy. The music doesn’t exist merely to pay homage to that which came before. The tandem has something of its own to say. Between the many music videos that have been released for tracks off this album, as well as the artwork itself, there is a cohesive vision at play. While sonically things scream New Order, visually we are met with something a bit more malleable. Think more along the lines of the chameleonic nature that helped define the career of David Bowie and you’re in the ballpark. The album elicits a fiercely androgynous sex appeal that permeates every layer of the release. The masks of these two personae –lipstick, eye shadow, hairstyling- are no better represented than on the album cover, with a version for each member of the group. Even the instruments contribute to this, as the tones and choices made culminate to help you peer at the world through the lens of Male Tears.

Album Art By GRYFF

After the opener, things get even more energetic, with the intriguing “Let’s Pretend,” an uncannily catchy tune that revels in hypotheticals. In a world still reeling from the ongoing pandemic, the idea of viewing love or romance as an idea to be solely indulged in hypothetically is an especially intriguing concept. After the opener, it’s the first real moment where the album “locks eyes” with the listener as well. While the gaze may grow ever intense as the release wears on, here it’s teasing, playful.

But as we dive deeper into the release, the darker side of things starts to show up. While the tunes maintain their airiness thanks in large part to tinkling synths, the subject matter gets more concerning. Even the track titles themselves start to paint this picture. Playing pretend was fun and all, but “Good in the Dark” starts to take these fleeting fantasies further. While on the surface, this is the best Pat Benatar track in decades, the manifestations of those casual glances are getting more intense. Things are heating up, but what happens when the dark gives way to light?

“Creep Distance” is the answer to that question, which carries a far less peppy melody. The drums cut that extra bit harder, the vocals croon more, and the fantasy seems to be over. The most frequently uttered line in the track is “don’t stand so close to me.” A divide in the earlier dreams has formed. This is further reaffirmed by the lyrics explicity, saying “now that we’ve grown far apart.” If that doesn’t spell things out enough, the next track, “Human Errorz,” unbelievably gets more sinister. While the lyrical content is more pensive and less dramatic, the synths in this one are downright sinister. And that’s to say nothing of the punctuating, downright propulsive percussion.

But things can’t all be grim, can they? Surely you’ve got to be able to turn a corner eventually, right? Well what if we just fast-forwarded right to that? That’s what “Future X” decides to do, jumping forward past the dour ruminations of the last couple emotional tracks. We have a more peppy beat again, the synthesized strings are back, and the lyrics talk about not wanting to “think about any time but the future,” before repeating “take me to the future” in the chorus. A future where things are looking up perhaps?

But not so fast. “Adult Film” hasn’t had its say just yet. Opening with a solo bass line that sounds handmade for a keytar, this track probably has the most dramatic vocals of the release. The rigors of singing are more evident than ever, with the emotional strain of the subject matter being most evident. Really, the whole track feels off the rails. The dizzying arpeggiated xylophones represent the nucleus of the tune running through basically the whole song. But this manic pace was never going to last.

“She Lives in the Pipes” tones things back down a bit, bringing the tempo to a calmer, more controlled level. While the subject matter on the surface might sound, well, strange, sonically, this is one of the standouts on the album. While it’s a little trickier to find a place for this in the “story” we’ve crafted here, it’s got maybe the best chorus on the whole album. So let’s think of it as a narrative interlude or the infectiously catchy commercial that interrupted your regularly scheduled programming.

The respite doesn’t last long though, as the penultimate track brings an incredibly important revelation both in the context of the album, and more broadly, in everyday life. “I Should Feel How I Feel” may attempt to tackle the ability — or inability — to accept oneself for who they are. The song appears to deal with some pretty troubling subject matter, almost as if not being accepted is deserved for someone being the way that they are, and trying to come to grips with that revelation. After all of the events that had come before, this track may represent some kind of resigned acceptance to one’s role or purpose in the world. But understanding and acknowledging that is an important step in being able to move beyond it. It’s pretty bleak stuff, so what comes next is rather surprising. 

Whatever you were expecting next, it’s probably not a brilliant Rick Astley-esque tune, is it? Well with “Take My Picture”, that’s what we get. The drums carry the expected crisp gated reverb that defined much of ‘80s drumming — and don’t get us started on the synth tones! Given how bleak some of the past few minutes have felt, it’s perhaps encouraging that the album ends so optimistically. It affords us some hope for the future. And it’s a wonderful closer on an album that has us as optimistic as ever for the future of Male Tears. 

If you’re anxious to get your hands on the album you won’t need to wait long, as it will be dropping on Pacific Plaza Records Sunday, February 14th –yes, that’s Valentine’s Day- at 12PM PST.

Male Tears


Get The Album!

gbanas92 Score: 4/5

Favorite Track: Good in the Dark

Indy Advant Score: 4/5

Favorite Track: Chained Up