Even though it might sound hazy and untroubled due to its chillwave and synth pop leanings, the debut solo album from BADBADNOTGOOD’s Matthew Tavares is an incredibly vulnerable, personal work, with evidence of pain, heartache, and the process towards eventual, albeit intense self-healing in just about every single one of its lyrical narratives. It’s also not completely clear from the enamored instrumentals that make up “Nothing, Yet” that the rest of Déjàvu is a project three years in the making as well as the result of Tavares’s self-described mental breakdown, which he explained on social media:
I felt completely defeated by life and constantly at odds with a voice in my head that could only scream negative things at me or predict the worst possible outcomes…I finished my touring obligations and subsequently started working non stop on music, which I felt was my only outlet to mental recovery. I realized that art is a laboratory for facing that negative inner voice in a controlled environment.
It is the moments within the track where Matty switches from self-criticism to honest vulnerability, where that same lush, iridescent orchestral melody changes to muted pastels, that ultimately induce chills – his voice, hazy, delicate, but sincere and fearlessly direct, tells us outright that “before I die I want a world of/ connections/ but I’m too afraid of always being/ rejected,” his voice entering that second falsetto breathlessly, seamlessly as if being slowly relieved of the weight on his shoulders as he sings. Not long afterwards, he introduces the full palette once again in the form of an avant-garde, Beatles-esque orchestral interlude, but now it sounds sensitive, fragile, even hopeful underneath all the gauze. Although it comes from a place of emotional and mental strife, the album is, ultimately, a beautiful example of what can result from working towards some kind of peace within yourself, as well as a chance for others going through similar hardships to feel less alone.
Déjàvu is out now.
Photo by Matthew Tavares