Fans of St Lucia’s 2013 debut album When The Night will be pleased to hear that the New York band’s follow up doesn’t mark too much of a a departure from their synth-heavy sound. The truth is quite the contrary actually. On Matter, released this week, frontman and pop maverick Jean-Philip Grobler simply amplifies everything that was so effortlessly sublime about its predecessor and thus the result is an exhilarating record filled with songs that overflow with sheer unbridled exuberance.
The synths soar higher and the land harder. The hooks sink deeper and the vocals propel faster. This is essentially audio rapture for the electropop-loving generation and, while there’s certainly a shimmering retro feel to much of the music here, don’t get confused in to thinking that Matter is simply a gloriously nostalgic pastiche of the 80s. Oh, what am I saying? It does sound like a gloriously nostalgic pastiche of the 80s. But that said, the music is so expertly-crafted, so perfectly curated and so meticulously ordered, it completely avoids falling in to copycat mode by being so cohesive, consistent and damned catchy in its own right.
Then there’s Grobler’s appetite for delivering each number with massively transferable enthusiasm. To that end, you’re pretty much in for a run of pop stomper after pop stomper – each resplendent with exhilarating skyward-shooting electro flourishes and galloping synthpads.
Just listen to mid-album highlight Rescue Me and its thrillingly frenzied Frankie Goes To Hollywood-esque intro, the triumphant lead single Dancing on Glass, or the breathtaking rush of Help Me Run Away. Even on Love Somebody, the collection’s sole downtempo offering which begins with hints of reverb-pulsing, R&B influences, we’re soon being lured back on track by the mid-way point to be enveloped by the gushing swirls of synths.
It’s not all giddy optimism though. Despite the uptempo vibe throughout, St. Lucia saves his biggest heartstring-tugger until last. Album closer Always is a grandiose but emotionally resonating spin on a faltering relationship, boosted by the addition of a soothing female-fronted chorus that bursts through a twinkling array of celestial bleeps and blips.
On Matter, St. Lucia has pulled out all of the stops to deliver an absolute belter of a second LP that’s aimed squarely at bonafide pop aficionados. There’s little room for the casual fan here – you’re either going to be in or out – but one things for certain. St. Lucia has done everything in his almightily talented pop powers to make you want to come along for the ride.