Chris Ward, also known as Tropics, and his follow up to his 2011 album Parodia Flare, is one filled with the feelings of love and loss. Ward’s gracious attempt to cater to the needs of a audience that’s hurting from rejection is admirable, and marks a good continuation point from where we heard him last.
Rapture gets off to a shaky start, with the first few tracks – excluding “Blame,” which is actually lovely – sounding detached and lost in the beats, yet clearer than what he did on Parodia. “Hunger” and “Indigo” sound scattered, and the inclusion of a spliced, unincorporated spoken vocal in the former just adds more confusion to the mix. The beat is solid, but is missing the real emotion that I crave with electronic music.Things pick up with the title track “Rapture,” with an addictive piano hook reminiscent of Rhye’s “The Fall.” It’s memorable and beautiful, and it’s the real start of the album for me. It’s here we finally hear an indication of a new path, along with honesty and Ward seeming to find personal meaning and definition. The energy and vulnerability that runs throughout it is undeniably addictive, and is well thought out, with lyrics that are nothing short of poetry. “Gloria” is a solid addition to the album as well, but its after this where the album veers off course again. “House of Leaves” and “Not Enough” are emotionally draining, and aren’t a good indicator of how skilled Tropics really is. The album as a whole, however, does seem to serve as a way for Ward to achieve personal gratification, with the rampant simulations of isolation in the instrumentals and the vulnerable yelping in the vocals.
However, the track “Home & Consonance” is the best on this album for sure, and perhaps even the best that Tropics has ever done. It’s so great, in fact, that it barely sounds like it belongs with the rest of the songs on this album. It’s minimal and gorgeous, with swelling synth beats, mysterious chimes, and of course, Ward’s breathtaking vocals. It’s here that I finally hear who Tropics really is as an artist, and it’s upsetting that we as listeners had to wait so long to hear it. “Home & Consonance” is wonderfully genuine, and a true diamond in the rough.
Overall, Rapture is a solid, honest effort, but somewhat lacks in organization. It is clear what Ward is trying to do – perhaps shed some more light on the devastating feelings of love and rejection – but the shakiness in confidence and passion is what made it feel underwhelming. With electronic music, since the beats are synthetic, I need to feel like I’m hearing truth and real passion in the vocals, and I rarely got it here. There are some solid tracks that save it, however, and there is a silver lining – Chris Ward has found his own voice, now it’s just time to refine it and make it even more poignant.
Best tracks: “Home & Consonance”, “Rapture”
photo by Lulu McArdle