I'm not here to review the album in detail, but I will tell you it's his most colourful, organic and human sounding effort yet. Whilst still being essentially electropop, live instruments pop up everywhere, weaving a delicate 3-dimensional tapestry that the "Do It In The A.M." Frank would never have considered. Take the lilting guitars on the verses of "Misdemeanor" and "These Streets" - gorgeous. And the double bass/marimba texture on the verses "Go"? Subtle but somehow breathtaking.
"Misdemeanor", "Go" and first single "These Streets" are my album highlights because they are the sound of an artist simultaneously at his artistic and commercial peak. Their big pop choruses could easily stand out on his exceptional debut Complete Me, with a warmth and maturity that Vince wasn't in touch with back when he recorded it. On "Misdemeanor", Frank talks of conquering his fear of getting older at one point, admitting "the future's a place I feel I don't belong", whilst "Go" could well be about the same girl from "Confusion Girl", but this time Vince is wiser, wryly encouraging Ms Confusion to "go and do what your friends say, they didn't like me anyway."
But best of all is "These Streets". It might not seem like an obvious first single, with its subtle, subdued "Black and Gold"-esque pulse, but placed at the very end of a focused, reflective and forward thinking album, it comes across as the perfect curtain call, or perhaps the perfect 'to be continued'. It's a break-up song, like so many of Vince's are, but when he says "strangers pass by where you were once there by my side", he shrugs it off with a sweet "I've got these streets".
After 7 years of Vince singing mournful tales of 'what if?', and even one unconvincing (yet beautiful) track named "Final Song (To You)", this finally feels like the end of this chapter and the beginning of a new one for Vince, musically and lyrically. And judging by the raw, idea-crammed By Nicole, there is so much more new inspiration in him, growing by the second and bursting to be expressed.
Below is the one take video of "These Streets". It features nothing more than Vince standing under a bridge somewhere in London (on the route of the 152, if you pay attention), but I dare you not to fall slightly in love with this man whilst watching it.
FOR FANS OF: Sam Sparro, Bastille, The 1975
- Joe Copplestone, 28.04.14