(Ghostly International | Dance/Electronica)
New York musician Matthew Dear is a long-time hero of mine. His approach to dance music folds minimal, experimental and banging basslines in with acid house tics, witty lyrics and dark themes. He’s one of those artists who I perpetually wonder why he’s not more popular – with tunes that make DFA-stable artists sound pedestrian and massive production values, Dear should be headlining festivals – and if not, be all over the radio.
With this fourth album, Beams, he continues his run on famously free-thinking label Ghostly International, and more or less does as he pleases. In places his mix of pulsing beats and guitar riffs recalls Daedelus, Cut Copy or Beck (sadly now lost to Scientology), but this isn’t a record of individual highs. Dear is an album artiste – even if you listen to Beams constantly for days, there isn’t a ‘single’ in the traditional sense – and this record rewards those that appreciate the album as a form: it’s about cadence, recurring themes and not confining yourself to three-minute radio-edited spaffs. It’s ultimately constructed as a classic two-disc LP, underlining his album-oriented approach.
Above all, Beams is dance music. It’s made for clubs, and live sets – the songs bleed equally as well into each other as they do into the full body of Dear’s work. The darkness continues, but this record is sonically bolder than previous albums; there are experimental squees and bongs that demonstrate a healthy comfort in his place, and Beams is thoroughly less agitated and awkward than Black City. One for a great Sunday afternoon listening session.
- Seb Law