Urban Heat revives industrial synthwave with single ‘That Gun in Your Hand’

Urban Heat/Courtesy

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Although Urban Heat has only released two songs to date, it’s clear that the group is more than just a dedicated new wave devotee. The band channels its passion for the genre with deep, bone-rattling sounds and the subtle, droning fuzz new wave is known for. Relying heavily on pulsing melodies and synthwave drums, its new single, “That Gun in Your Hand,” released April 10, is a proper tribute to nostalgia while keeping things modern.

“That Gun in Your Hand” starts out with a synth riff embodying the work of the powerhouse synth players in LCD Soundsystem. Emulating this iconic band works in Urban Heat’s favor, allowing it to start off strong with a fresh melody instead of with an overused ’80s riff. The vocals, perfectly dark and commanding, follow soon after, fitting into the instrumentals like the last piece of a puzzle.

Frontman Jonathan Horstmann’s baritone voice drips with emotion as he sings, “You wanna make your mom, make your daddy proud with that gun in your hand?” Not only do the beats encapsulate the heart and soul of ’80s industrial, the lyrics also touch upon tragedies like school shootings that reflect the dark mood the genre relies so strongly on. 

Despite the song’s somber topic, the tone somehow takes on a romanticized quality with Horstmann’s delivery. The finishing lines invoke a hopeful ending — and an inherently political one — with Horstmann gently singing, “Let’s put our guns on the ground.” 

And the single spews this political poetry, all set to a properly intense backbeat. But Urban Heat has a unique approach: Instead of just preaching a revolution, the band offers an outstretched hand to those struggling with or pondering about the topic. The song’s final lyrics hold immense weight, an olive branch extended through beautiful music.

But what makes “That Gun in Your Hand” transcend traditional new wave music is its incorporation of contemporary breakdowns during bridges and before the chorus. Featuring trap-like drums and the soft, electronic flourishes seen in today’s house and subgenres of alternative electronic music, the track sounds quintessentially new wave, but with a modern flair.

This tune isn’t a half-baked effort in bringing back ’80s sounds, nor is it an empty political agenda. Urban Heat is hitting listeners with the full force of cherished gothic punk music, and it’s an excellent start to a new oasis of well-composed, meaningful homages to the genre.

Pooja Bale covers music. Contact her at [email protected].