Sam Genders' (Tunng/The Accidental) solo(?) venture, Diagrams, follows up 2012's debut album 'Backlight' with a new album for 2015, 'Chromatics'. The eleven tracks are as balanced and cohesive as any you'll hear on an album this year. The production allows each track to build and breathe whilst still holding together the connecting threads of creativity and character. The one time this Folktronica protagonist weaves a delicate and multi-textured collage of softly cushioned, warm tunes around his inviting, compassionate and compelling vocals.
Album teaser track 'Phantom Power' heads up the roll call of tunes. A jangle of guitars ushers in the wave of sound brought to life by Sam's smooth vocal. By the time the whistles and beats kick in you are almost instantaneously and irrevocably hooked.
As the album unfolds there is a very definitive sound that plays out throughout that is matched just as masterfully by the lyrical quality. There is a Guy Garvey (Elbow) -esque sound that pervades 'Chromatics', a Northern hue and a lyrical phrasing that is shared by both but delivered very individually. Even the use of some of the words are uncannily familiar by association: 'Umbilical', 'Litany', 'Demarcation', 'Ineffably' etc. and the use of 'Love' and 'Dear' when referring to a person rather than the emotion.
The title track, 'Chromatics', perfectly embodies the essence of the album with its mellow, relaxed feel, washing over you in delicate waves of layered harmony and restrained instrumentation. Like a lullaby, it melodiously captures and calms you. The hypnotic draw of 'Shapes' is similarly effective, lifting you out of reality into a dreamier, transcendental place of pleasure.
Tracks like 'Dirty Broken Bliss' and 'Desolation' show the complexity and multi-dimensional variance to be found over the course of the album. Half heard electronic sequences and loops vie with toe-tapping percussive breaks and beats to deliver up intrigue and individuality track after track. On 'The Light And The Noise' you can even hear hints of The Housemartins.
Sam Genders, aided and abetted by his extended troupe, have excelled themselves on his second album 'Chromatics'. It's beautifully balanced, sensitive, succinct and surprisingly addictive. What a fabulous way to start the new year.
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