Funny how an artist can make something that doesn’t grab you, and then make something else that isn’t so different – and it blows you away.
I *liked* the first album – or rather, I *loved* the singles and another track or two, and I thought the rest of it was a little undercooked. I expected this album to be a re-run of that experience – I *love* the Ezra Koenig tune and the Sampha single, and on first listen, I had a feeling of deja vu. Nice, inventive, soulful, but downbeat and – yup, maybe a little undercooked.
Wow, was I wrong? Every single time I played the album, it opened up a little more. Until I couldn’t stop playing it, and the songs started ringing round my brain even when I wasn’t listening to them.
This record is such a huge step forward from his debut. He was always clearly insanely talented, but he’s honed that talent very quickly, and this genuinely feels like an artist firing on all cylinders. And like all musicians of any note, he seems to create a sound that makes you wonder where the fuck it even came from.
What I like about it is that he doesn’t feel like a guy immersed in some hipster culture or trying to create something to do with fashion. It is *soul* music in the broadest sense. I knew nothing about the guy until I read this interview:
– and it really informed my listening of this album. He does sound like an outsider, someone who’s willing to try anything out and see where it leads. A song like Look Away, featuring the Chairlift singer, could easily come across as repetitive or moribund – instead it feels insistent and melancholy. Higher, the Raury track, feels a bit like a slap in the face the first few times you hear it, coming as it does quite early in the tracklist. But again, it became something quite different after a few listens. He sure as hell knows how to get the best of Jessie Ware, an artist I *really* like but who can easily drift a little into bland territory without the right material. Best of all is the album’s closer, Voices in My Head, a terrifyingly real drug psychosis song delivered with paranoid genius by ASAP Ferg. Again, you struggle to imagine how a collaboration like that came about. And then I read this:
And this kind of sums up what I love about this. He’s a collaborator – a proper one, who can bring out the best in everyone he works with – but one who at the same time has a complete musical vision.
This, Brothers, is undoubtedly one of my albums of the year. I look forward to your thoughts.