Having already toyed with misty, psych-steeped pop tracks on his Planet Mu debut (2011's Parodia Flare LP) and its follow-up EP, Popup Cinema, producer/singer Chris Ward seizes the spotlight on his second Tropics album. It's as if Ward decided to go the James Blake route, keeping his bedroom beatmaker credentials even as he focuses on becoming more of a frontman. Pulling from the right reference points certainly doesn't hurt — the Beach Boys, Max Roach, and Arthur Russell in this case — although the real selling point of Rapture is Ward's attention to detail. While his airy vocals now sit comfortably in the foreground of every song, the confidence of his vaporized verses and choruses is underlined by drunken drum rolls and woozy counter-melodies ("Blame"), spring-loaded piano parts and restless rhythms ("Rapture"), and layered keyboard lines that can't seem to stop tripping over one another ("Home & Consonance"). The result is a headphone record that's richer and more rewarding than anything Ward has written under his Tropics name. Now all he needs is a backing band that can meet his increasingly ambitious ideas halfway.
Full track list:
Tropics - "Home & Consonance" | "Rapture" | "Blame (Run Back Version)" | "Popup Cinema" | "Wear Out" | "Parodia Flare" | M83 - "Reunion (Tropics Remix)" | "Soft Vision" | "Invitation"