Best 80s electro synth, goth & new wave essentials

By Toadspotter Toadspotter
updated about 1 month ago

A collection of my fave 80s albums I consider essentials and some of the best rated. Many are chosen for synth and experimentalism cult type bands, and this is not an exhaustive list with pop 80s, indie rock, or dark abrasive stuff, nor too genre specific. All these are very listenable and good to spin for the sometimes experimental ear. Some more obscure that should definitely be checked out if you don't know them and are into the 80's sound. Many of them are experimental because of the new technology in the 80's, and not all songs are gems but the lesser songs seem to grow on you. Suggestions welcome.

  1. Section 25 - From The Hip

    This is an extremely good album that balances a sort of post punk art rock sensibilty with 80s synth/drum machine goodness. Really great discovery, and tops this list.

  2. Saâda Bonaire - Saâda Bonaire

    Absolute Gem. Most not released until compiled recently. A must hear since it draws on so many influences. I especially like the eastern instrumentation mixed in with 80s synth and beats.

  3. Antena - Camino Del Sol

    Jobim meets Kraftwerk? Just my cup of tea. Bossa influenced 80s synth band with only one mini album. I just discovered this, maybe 5 years after this list was created, just to give you some context of how hard it is to discover items on this list despite always digging. And yet, tons of people know about it and want it compared to many on this list.

  4. Shoc Corridor - Experiments In Incest

    This is probably in my top 3 favorite 80s albums - side A especially, but probably not for everyone. Its pretty down beat with more of a background ambiance album with it's dub electro synth sound.

  5. Deux (2) - Decadence

    Not an official 80's release but the best collection of this Lovely French duo minimal synth band that is obtainable.

    #4 - #11 on this list are minimal wave synth records that may or may not be your jam. I just want to let peeps know about them since they are somewhat obscure fun records. I have them listed in order of my favorites.

  6. Experimental Products - Prototype

    One of the best minimal synth albums. Helped map out how to make great synth drum machine music. The reissue is somewhat still obtainable.

  7. Linear Movement - On The Screen

    Another minimal synth band comp not from 80s but best bet to obtain...

  8. Gay Cat Park - Synthetic Woman

    Anybody been to this park? Some great meow meow synths. Very 80s minimal synth. I spin this one quite a bit.

  9. Iko - '83

    The once obscure minimal synth pop tape now on LP. Listing a few minimal synth album here (the next 2-3) though they aren't really my fave 80s albums, but some of the better of the genre. The best are listed above.

  10. Andie Oppenheimer* - New Mexico

    Minimal Synth goodie. Quite a few minimal synth albums here at the start of this list so it's either your thing or not. Some I like better than others for sure.

  11. Solid Space (2) - Space Museum

    Finally this minimal synth gem with good jangly guitars and dark futurist mood is officially available again for the first time since a cassette in '82.

  12. Lives Of Angels - Elevator To Eden

    13 For Sale from $71.13

    A precursor to what people would be doing ten years later with alternative rock with guitars and effects, but with 80s drum machines and synths in the minimal style, with somewhat gothy vocals.

  13. Thick Pigeon - Too Crazy Cowboys

    I keep returning to spin this album. Some quirky art school songs and some dub elements with great synth and drum machine mix. Rarer goodie.

  14. Drinking Electricity - Overload + Singles

    13 For Sale from $25.00

    Some of the best female vocals, like Joan Jett meets Cristina. One of the best unknown post punk rock synth albums of the 80s. You get all the singles collected into a whole other album with this reissue. Its like having two full albus of theirs when they only release one fulll length.

  15. The Lo Yo Yo - Extra Weapons

    3 For Sale from $34.39

    Great relatively unknown album. I put a small review on it. Arty, world, new wave, post punk.

  16. Anna Domino - East And West

    Little known, but nice minimal compositions with classic 80's slightly funky bass and synths, and nice and chill.

  17. YMO* - Technodelic

    YMO was a very significant Japanese electronic band. Really nice, with weird situationalist lyrics that are great. My fave and only album of theirs. Yellow Magic orchestra was a top early Japanese electronic band that helped define the genre and push it forward for Japan.

  18. Logic System - Logic

    This is probably my second favorite Japanese early 80s electro synth-pop album next to YMO's technodelic. He did sythn sequencing for them and from same time so no surprise. Really cool synth work with a sometimes dark edge.

  19. Ryuichi Sakamoto - Thousand Knives Of

    Another great New wave synth pop album from Japan from one in the YMO tribe. Experimental but successful. Came out the same year as the other good stuff.

  20. Yukihiro Takahashi = 高橋幸宏* - Neuromantic = ニウロマンティック

    Another great New wave synth pop album from Japan from one in the YMO tribe. came out the same year as the other good stuff.

  21. Kraftwerk - Computerwelt

    A classic from one of the most influential early electronic bands. Maybe inspired some of the above YMO.

  22. Borghesia - Clones (Glasba Za Video)

    This is an amazing work to come out of Yugoslavia. Surprisingly artsy and conceptual. Really at the tops of my electro 80s faves.

  23. Borghesia - Ljubav Je Hladnija Od Smrti

    The fold-out red vinyl is still affordable of this great album. One of my favorite obscure discoveries. Darker than their first. It could be your new favorite 80's electro Yugoslavian sex torture synth album.

  24. The Sisters Of Mercy - Floodland

    The best goth rock album period. Such an amazing vision and work.

  25. The Sisters Of Mercy - First And Last And Always

    Also essential. Goth rock love.