Matthew Dear may forever be one of those artists who will always be respected but not necessarily popular. A shame because all of his solo albums demonstrate not only his renowned production skills but also his less heralded songwriting prowess. This has led to a support slot with Hot Chip, with whom he shares an affection for infectious electronic music.
Most of his fourth album, ‘Black City’, is superb. ‘I Can’t Feel’ revolves around addictive electronic hooks; the kind of which remind me of the vastly underrated German act Tarwater. He repeats the trick again on the similarly catchy ‘Soil To Seed’, ‘You Put A Smell On Me’, ‘Shortwave’ and ‘Monkey’; each following their own original, rhythmic path.
If there is one moment which reveals the true mark of his genius it is ‘Little People (Black City)’, which begins as euphoric synth pop but then mutates in to steadily darker territory; it’s essentially an epic dance track in three distinctively brilliant parts. Meanwhile, ‘Slowdance’ and the Kraftwerk-esque ‘More Surgery’ are top class examples of melancholic and vulnerable synth pop.
Dear’s growled vocals make Phil Oakey sound high-pitched and although they suit the moody nature of the music, they could be one of the main reasons why he isn’t a more recognised figure in his field. Nevertheless, it’s hard to think of techno pop full of so much depth and mystery.
Tarwater, Richard Davis, Hot Chip