Eight years ago, Affair existed for just a moment, embracing a newfound love of analogue equipment that produced noise that captured the attention of execs and labels. Admittedly, the duo was too shy to deal with it all, so withdrew into the shadows. (Fair play. I would’ve done the same.) However, the Synthwave duo are back and they’ve emerged with their debut EP, Clouds.

What’s apparent is their love of analogue remains and exists strongly on Clouds. It features heavy sets of synthesisers and its songs are bound together by a meticulous formula that makes them some of the most detailed and complex I’ve heard in a while. Lead single ‘Higher Still’ showcases this brilliantly. It introduces the listener to a sound that stutters with vocals, backed by startled percussion and a larger-than-life melody that shoots you straight up into the sky. There’s not much in terms of direction, but it makes up for that with an overarching atmosphere you cannot help but become enveloped in. Arches so much it essentially forms the EP’s opening track, ‘To Get’ too.

This free-flowing approach allows songs such as ‘Finger Tight’ to do their thing. Jabbing drums strike against thin synths and breathy vocals to create another instrumental that’s loaded with depth. The percussion almost confuses the mind with its abrasiveness, but is softened by the other, floaty instruments. ‘Lead To One’ offers a more direct sound, attacking with an abrupt melody that warps away as the vocals breathe past.

Clouds is one of the most fascinating EPs of the year. It delivers a complex sound that revels in its ability to bend the mind, but it’s done so well that you’ll have no issue with being wrapped up in it all. Thank you, Affair, for coming back.

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