Credit: Kirsten Barnett

I won’t pretend it’s possible to rank pop music from different decades in a defensible way, but Emily Blue’s new self-released third album, The Afterlove, makes a great case for the whimsy and arena-size ambition of the 1980s. Blue largely eschews nostalgia, despite using synth sounds from a bygone era, instead reimagining the futuristic idealism of the 80s for an era that’s on the other side of EDM—and that’s still making sense of the imprint left by that genre’s balderdash brogue. Blue understands that a pop song can express hope even when its lyrics evoke depression and loss, and her embrace of that paradox gives The Afterlove an intoxicating power. The best of these opulent, amiable tracks accomplish what any great pop song does: they make the world feel a little less lonely.

Emily Blue’s The Afterlove is available for pre-order on Bandcamp. The album drops 1/13.