In nine years, Matthew Dear has shown many incarnations, from DJ to producer to pop artist, but it wasn’t until his latest release that the co-founder of both Ghostly International and its offshoot Spectral Sound revealed the most important person of all: himself.
The title Beams can have double meaning here, standing for either a strong foundation or a ray of light. In Dear’s near decade of releasing music under his proper name, this album is his most cohesive to date. What began as minimalistic producing in 2003’s Leave Luck To Heaven grew to what many call his tour de force, 2010’s heavily dark and aptly titled Black City. And though the latter was critically acclaimed, it still lacked something—consistency. This album takes its predecessors’ avant-garde production and adds an extra pinch of pop. Between his five albums as “Matthew Dear,” this is by far his most vocal-centric (still only accounting for about half the playtime) and catchy.
Beams reels you in with its leading track (and first single), “Her Fantasy.” Though this is an epic song, clocking in at over six minutes, it is a steam engine, chugging along through well-produced beats and Dear’s sultry, bassy croons. It slowly builds on itself as it flip-flops between verses and twinkling instrumental breaks, dismissing a chorus. The track’s highlight is a vocal bridge where most of the instrumentation cuts and Dear asks, “Am I one heartbeat away from receiving a damaging shock to my life and believing that love was a cost worth a witness and seeing a larger machine?” This personal conflict weaves its way throughout the record.
But though it is clear the singer is battling an internal struggle of sorts, he claims this album is his most “positive” to date. Tracks like “Ahead Of Myself,” and “Do The Right Thing,” exemplify exactly what the titles entail. “Feel like runnin’ but I gotta stay put, because I’m gettin’ ahead of myself,” he reminds himself atop jarring electronic samples in the former before crooning about how hard it is to act right sometimes in the latter. “Do The Right Thing,” is one of Beams many highlights. Though lyrically heavy, the instrumentation is light and tropical, warping the song into a peculiar type of electro-ballad. It’s one of the only tracks on the record that follows a standard verse-chorus-verse pattern but still manages to sound captivating as it delicately floats in its four minutes and forty-two seconds of playtime.
It’s refreshing to hear a cohesive, disco-tinged project from a typically dark musician. With his beams both standing strong and shining bright, it will be exciting to see where Matthew Dear soars next.Like us on Facebook at BestNewBands.com and KatrinaNattress and follow us on Twitter at @BestNewBandscom and @KatrinaNattress