When an artist considers making his seventh album he (or she) can be forgiven for beginning to run out of ideas or perhaps re-tread old ground once too often. On the evidence of ‘Violent’, the seventh album from Talk Less, Say More’s Matthew Jennings, the basic template of synth pop remains but this time he has enlisted an assortment of talented collaborators to create some devilishly inventive new songs.
There’s barely time to draw breath as first song ‘When The Storms Came’ bounces along, fuelled by high energy beats and Jennings’ distinctive Matthew Dear-meets-Phil Oakey vocals and when he intones the line “Tonight is like petrol and you have the match” it’s hard not to smile. Listeners should be advised to expect the unexpected where arrangements are concerned. ‘Oh Hi’ brings in steel drums, the title track features chanting and slap bass and it’s a big “Hello” to the early electronic instrument, the Martenot, for the bizarre but lovely ‘Becoming An Island’. Meanwhile, the bright, humorous pop of ‘Cantona’ (describing a chance encounter with the former Manchester United footballer) cries out to be an indie hit.
All of these first few songs are immediately likeable and infectious but it could be argued there’s a lack of depth. To answer those claims, Jennings reveals more of his soulful side as the album progresses. One can tell by its title alone that ‘Honest’ is going to be one of the most emotive tracks on the album but also the longing of ‘It’s Just That I Worry About You’ gives glistening early 1980’s synth pop a very welcome shot in the arm, whilst the brass-assisted ‘Yeah, That’s Right’ wears its melancholic heart proudly on its sleeve. Finally, the influence of Junior Boys is apparent on the relatively spare ‘Let’s Be True To One Another’.
On an album where understatement is in short supply, Jennings is clearly revelling in the cornucopia of instruments and talents at his disposal. However, he never loses his way in his search for a crafty tune and this is reliably melodic, eclectic and fun synth-pop with its tongue firmly in cheek.
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