”Turborider” takes Reckless Love into the 80s nostalgia obsessed world of synthwave

Author Markus Mickels - 27.2.2022

The time seems to be opportune for the return of Reckless Love. Their single ”Monster” from a few years ago seems to have gained some traction recently after the song made an appearance on the HBO Max hit series ”Peacemaker”. Not to mention our current media landscape, which seems to be increasingly leaning on 80s nostalgia is just the right kind of environment for a band like Reckless Love who build on the traditions of 80s hair metal. After a few years of not recording, the band is back with a slightly renewed sound and image.

One music scene that has clearly grown in the last few years due to increasing 80s nostalgia is synthwave. I myself am very fond of this genre of pop music that often leans into a stereotypical 80s aesthetic. Now this enthusiasm seems to have caught up with Reckless Love as well, as their fifth album ”Turborider” leans heavily into synthwave style synth pop and video game aesthetics. The direction is new for the band but not too new. I mean the band has always flirted with pop music, so why not this time with pop that is more explicitly influenced by the 80s? The retro video game mood of ”Turborider” is still close enough to the themes of the band’s earlier album’s that it comes across as a logic next step in the same continuum. After all the gap between Def Leppard and Van Halen’s style of pop metal and 80s synth pop really isn’t all that great.

Some things the band’s new direction clearly influences right away though are their sound and arrangements. Take the single ”Eyes of a Maniac” for example. The song has all the elements of a great Reckless Love song from catchy verses and a catchy chorus to an entoxicatingly melodic guitar solo. Still it doesn’t seem to quite take off how one might hope or anticipate. For Reckless Love’s style of flashy music, the synth pop sound that emphasizes keyboards and electronic sounding drums seem a bit stiff. You start craving for a bigger and more lively sound – more guitar tracks, more backing vocals, more everything. In fact the more I listen to the song, the more I find myself paying attention to the vocals specifically. There’s nothing wrong with Olli Herman’s vocal performance, but his voice is mixed like it’s separate and floating on top of the instruments. When going for a proper dreamlike and spacey synthwave mood, one would hope for a vocal sound that blends in with the music more and works together with it to create a mood. The same problem plagues the single ”Outrun”, which despite being catchy would take off better if the vocal sound was bigger and there were more layered backing vocals.

The album’s sound works better on the song ”Kids of the Arcade” where every single aspect from the song writing to the execution is as 80s as can be. The song is cliche and predictable, but everything about it works, and it can’t help but bring a smile to my face. The guitar sound is nice and crunchy, the retro pop synths bring to mind video game worlds… Yes, this I like. If I were to choose the best song on the album, it would either be this or the laid-back pop rock song ”For the Love of Good Times”, which is an absolute pleasure to vibe to and that gets better with every listen. Among the album’s weaker moments is in turn ”Like a Cobra”, which has good verses but a really flat chorus.

”Turborider” isn’t all pop though, as Reckless Love do remember to include some heavier moments on the album, as well. The title track that opens the album is one of its best songs and kind of reminds me of a more modern version of ”Turbo” era Judas Priest. The album’s heaviest and crunchiest guitar sound is probably on the closing track ”Prodigal Sons”, though. The band surprisingly even fits in a cover version of Ozzy Osbourne’s ”Bark at the Moon” on the album. Reckless Love adds some electronic beats to this classic heavy metal song, which don’t improve the song but do admittedly fit the general sound of the album. Olli Herman however has no trouble singing Ozzy, which he already proved covering ”Waiting for Darkness” with The Local Band a few years ago. Guitarist Pepe also once again proves his capability as a guitarist on ”Bark at the Moon” by more than faithfully recreating Jake E. Lee’s riffs and solos.

”Turborider” isn’t Reckless Love at their absolute peak, but the album will still definitely find its way into my record collection. All the essential building blocks that made up the band’s previous albums are still there. There’s riff-driven 80s metal, hair metal flirting with pop music, and a couple of full-blown pop songs. The song that most obviously abandons the heavy metal frame work is probably ”’89 Sparkle” ,which is driven by a groovy bassline and a catchy chorus. Despite its name though, the song doesn’t really resemble 80s music, but is instead only one or two steps away from 90s boy bands. But that’s alright. I mean who doesn’t dig the Backstreet Boys, metalhead or not?


  1. Turborider
  2. Eyes of a Maniac
  3. Outrun
  4. Kids of the Arcade
  5. Bark at the Moon
  6. Prelude (Flight of the Cobra)
  7. Like a Cobra
  8. For the Love of Good Times
  9. ’89 Sparkle
  10. Future Lover Boy
  11. Prodigal Sons