OP here, I called the thread "retrowave" after a similar thread on the old site but as I understand it now that's a misnomer which actually just comes from the name of a popular youtube channel. "synthwave" is the more accepted term.
one trend I don't hugely care for is when artists try to artificially "date" their music by degrading it to sound like an old VHS recording or whatever. I get that format limitations leave more room to the imagination, but that to me feels like it should be used as a creative starting point, not as a crutch to make up for when you don't have much interesting to express. in contrast the best artists (Perturbator is probably my favourite) take the synth soundscape as given and use it to push out toward something greater. even Carpenter Brut is kind of borderline on that - his production is super tight and punchy, the best in the scene, but the compositions themselves feel a bit stuck in time without any strong sense of direction.