With retro synth emerging as a dominating trend of the past few years, it’s been interesting to see which groups fit it naturally and which feel shoe-horned in. Exile Tribe’s Fantastics have totally suited the sound – so much that I hardly want them to stray from it! 2020’s High Fever ended up becoming a huge grower and a landmark single within their discography. Summer Bike picks up where that song left off, delivering a hazy fantasia of gorgeous synths and vocals.
While not similar enough to count as an interpolation, the synth that underpins Summer Bike reminds me of Don Henley’s seminal 1984 hit Boys Of Summer. This happens to be one of my all-time favorite 80’s tracks, and I’ve always thought its looping synth was prototypical of the trance genre despite pre-dating it and being tethered to an AOR rock song.
That’s a bit of a tangent, but Summer Bike gives me many of those same feelings. It’s deceptively simple and wispy, yet gains stature with each listen. Vocalists Nakajima Sota and Yagi Yusei have never sounded better, their smooth tones merging seamlessly with the hypnotic instrumental. The song’s single-minded simplicity is its asset. It offers a vibe worthy of getting lost in. It drips with texture. We’ve heard many, many songs of this nature since 2020, but I appreciate Summer Bike’s focus. It chooses a few stunning melodies and wrings everything it can from them. The vocal layering is exquisite, the subtle injection of synth strings is stirring, and the end product feels like a perfect summertime tone poem.