Tropics‘ latest release Rapture (which out now via Innovative Leisure) is a bleak yet beautifully crafted breakup album, full of hushed vocals and gentle synths. This sophomore effort from British based producer Chris Ward takes you on a melancholic journey through lost love. Utilizing sexy spaced out beats and R&B like vocals Ward has taken his productions to a new, more nuanced level, surpassing his 2011 debut Parodia Flare.
Chris Ward takes Tropics to a new level with his new release Rapture. His subtle songwriting and blends of jazz, electronica and R&B tragically craft a moving breakup album.
Rapture opens with piano based track Blame, a jazz-pop hybrid during which Warp whispers “Did I just let you go? It felt so wrong.’ Blame sets the stage for an album that explores feelings of isolation and regret following the dissolution of a relationship. The LP closes with Not Enough in which Ward sings, “How can you let go? Give it time” thus signifying a moment of resignation and clarity. The nature of the opening and closing lyrics creates a poetic sense of conclusion, suggesting Ward isn’t going to wallow around in pain anymore- he has accepted the relationship’s end.
A common element throughout Rapture is the juxtaposition of Wards controlled, calm beats with the soulful intensity of his lyrics and vocal performance. In songs such as Hunger and the titular Rapture, Ward starts us off with light baselines and kick back drums that lift you up before introducing melancholic lyrics that take you back down. This combination ultimately places emphasis on the vocals. This is something that sets Ward apart from a lot of electronic or ‘chill-wave’ artists- the vocals are not just another part of the production but rather the driving force of the song.
One of the great things about Ward’s lyrics is the way he places beauty in the everyday. His lyrics are simple yet powerful. On track four Kwiat, a soft atmospheric number, Ward croons that its so quiet now that his partner has gone before repeating that he wishes he knew it was the last time. There is a real honesty to the way Ward is exploring the end of a relationship here- he’s not yelling, he’s not angry, he’s just noticing the little things that are different now.
One of the most moving songs off the LP is the largely instrumental House of Leaves. House of Leaves acts sort of like an interlude- it’s the second last song on the album and it’s hazy toned down beat suggests a moment of internal contemplation in which Ward finds personal clarity before accepting the relationship’s fate in the closing track, Not Enough.
Rapture is an interesting album in that no one song stands out- it needs to be absorbed all at once. Ward has seamlessly combined jazz, electronica and old school R&B to create an LP that sounds a bit like chilled out background music, but on closer inspection explores very real feelings of intimacy and regret in a way that will feel honest to anyone who has had their heart broken.
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