Montreal producer Mike Silver’s music as CFCF has often cast a nostalgic glance backward, whether via the wistful New Age tones of 2015’s Radiance & Submission, the dreamy Balearic accents of 2016’s On Vacation, or the gentle drum ’n’ bass of 2019’s Liquid Colours. As its title might suggest, Memoryland also dwells upon the past, but this time the view is less rose-tinted. Motivated by moods he’s described as “angsty, messy, and dark,” Silver delves into the music of his twenties as a way of working through the confusion of young adulthood, putting special emphasis on ’90s electronica. The terrain makes for some surprising musical shifts, given CFCF’s previous catalogue: Alongside shoegazing IDM (“Model Castings”) and drill ’n’ bass (“Nostalgic Body”), he takes in euphoric progressive house (“Night/Day/Work/Home”), breakbeat trance (“Slippery Plastic Euphoric”), and a note-perfect pastiche of French touch (“Self Service 1999”). “After the After” is a vocoder-led stab at 2-step garage, and “Dirty” harnesses post-rock guitars, while “Gravure Idol” begins in familiar ambient territory but gradually swells into a throbbing expression of widescreen sound design. But CFCF has always been something of a trickster, and here, too, nothing is quite what it seems. The title of “Life Is Perfecto” nods to Paul Oakenfold and his pop-trance crossover hits of the ’90s, yet the song sounds more like Squarepusher remixing The Cure. “Punksong” also evokes Robert Smith and his doleful crew—this time, the alternative-pop sensibilities of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. But even when CFCF doesn’t actually sound like The Cure, it’s easy to understand how he might be influenced by them: Few artists have more eloquently gone angstier, messier, or darker in their music—and few have so keenly balanced abject despair with giddy elation. Silver is similarly torn between extremes: In Memoryland, returning to the past is a thrillingly bittersweet affair.

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