When the Brooklyn indie-dance outfit St. Lucia first emerged in 2012, New York City’s synth-pop scene was having a major moment. “It kept the wind in our sails for a few years,” South African frontman Jean-Philip Grobler tells Apple Music. “But now the scene is evolving. We wanted to evolve, too.”
For inspiration, Grobler revisited a handful of contemporary classics—records like OK Computer, Born to Run, and Rumours—in search of connective tissue. The magic ingredient, he says, was always live energy: “Human musicians huddled in a room.” So Grobler rounded up the band and recorded a rough draft of Hyperion that felt, as he says, “very alive, but a little too DIY.” Veteran producer Rob Kirwan (PJ Harvey, U2, Depeche Mode) was brought in to edit, softening the synths and lifting the instrumentals to showcase the band’s onstage electricity.
The result is St. Lucia’s biggest and brightest work yet, as well as their most unabashedly nostalgic. Full of mid-’80s pop cliches that have been revived and amplified like runway trends—extra-chunky basslines (“Walking Away”), power chords (“Gun”), and hopeful pop hooks that ring unmistakably of Steve Winwood (“A Brighter Love”)—it’s pure, unyielding optimism for a new era. “Some of the best live shows I’ve seen have been older artists on their farewell tours,” Grobler says. “And what I love is how they were able to reach beyond the cave they were put in as artists, to evolve. We came up in the synth-pop world, but we always had ambitions beyond it.”