By J. Gregory
I am not giving this album 5 stars lightly. This very well may be my favorite album, top-to-bottom, that I've ever listened to. The ambiance and vibe of these tracks is relaxed and rhythmic, and a gorgeous blend of synths, vocal effects, layering, and production rocketed what once was an artist's very simple sound into the stratosphere of creativity.
If you dive beneath the surface of the album's aesthetics, though, you can still find the hallmarks of what makes Andrew Belle a compelling artist. The lyrics are introspective and thoughtful, with themes of love, despair, and faith standing out consistently. The sound may have changed, but the spirit found in the lyrics and subject matter of the album are classic AB.
While I enjoy every track on this record, my standout favorites are Dark Matter, Sister, Many Lives, and I Won't Fight It. The album is well paced, alternating between upbeat and downbeat tracks, with a predominantly instrumental track in the middle. Andrew also alternates on the themes of each song. For instance, Dark Matter and Black Bear are about Andrew's faith, but between those tracks is a intimate and interesting love song Pieces, and Sister, where the narrator is trying to reach out to a family member who is suffering.
In my opinion, and regarding my personal taste in music, this album succeeds on every level. It's writing, instrumentation, production, and pacing are all top notch. It's ideas are thoughtful and they reflect Andrew's unique journey up to this point. It's a deeply personal album rife with beauty and sadness, where love is weaved throughout the text, and a weary and confused narrator wrestles with his struggles and ultimately finds hope. It's about as perfect an album as I could ever want.
Thank you Andrew! Keep up the great work!