Second time listening to the new Baths album, and I don’t think I enjoy it as much as Cerulean, honestly, BUT I do love a few tracks on it.
There’s a definite shift from the glitch hop influence which informed his first album toward a heavier focus on songwriting. It’s like a singer-songwriter album run through an electronic filter, whereas Cerulean was more equally balanced in those two sides of the project.
On one hand, I admire how personal that allows him to make this record, but on the other, I don’t think his writing ability is quite yet to the point of justifiably overshadowing the production. Specifically, I think the downcast tone gets a little underwhelming considering how dynamically flat some of these songs are.
Also, some of the lyrics are somewhat ridiculously unsubtle at some points (e.g. on “Incompatible” and “No Eyes”), though I suppose it is pretty nice to take a break from vague, cryptic lyrics every once in a while.
It’s a solid release, really. His production chops are still great, but as long as he is letting his songwriting do most of the talking, I think he needs to develop those skills a bit more before he can put out something truly fantastic.
And I have faith that can happen. There are a few true standouts, like the gorgeous vocal melodies on “Ironworks” and the odd, interjecting piano melody on “No Past Lives.”