With his last release, Black City, the avid futurist Matthew Dear offered a vivid glimpse into a seductive world of night and dying dreams, pushing his sounds into new territory creatively. If there are concerns over whether that was just a phase– let them be put down. Conceptually, he’s on the same plane with his latest EP, Headcage but it’s not the same kind of immersion, nor the same vibe. The title track could serve as manifesto, “Throw your rocks in the air/ Let’s go have fun tonight,” the dated, oscillating snythesizers building into a rattling give-and-tug, that never quite breaks into all out danciness. Headcage is Dear plunging back into his brand of experimental pop, free of context.
Maybe it’s needless to say, but the production is stainless. Dear’s collaboration with the Drums’ Jonny Pierce, “In the Middle” makes for a surprisingly dynamic duet. They must have mutual admiration, at least since Dear’s hypnosis of “The Moon and Me” two years ago. You have Pierce’s brisk and airy bellow cutting a path over a winding reverie, filled under by Dear’s grovelly baritone. Falsetto “Street Song,” is a merry-go-round–with flying cars. The bumpy, whiny chorale ”Around a Fountain,” concludes the EP with a “let go” sort of benediction.
While its foundation is solid, Headcage doesn’t quite enrapture the way we know its creator to be capable of. Time will tell if the EP is a prototype, testing the waters for his forthcoming full-length Beams or a tangent, meant to be gotten out. In any case, if this is the pop of the future, Matthew Dear still seems pretty damn appealing.
Matthew Dear – Headcage tracklist:
- “In the Middle (I Met You There)”
- “Street Song”
- “Around a Fountain”