Adem - Love and Other Planets

"Warm, witty and incredibly humane this is the best work that Adem has produced so far."

 



Adem – Love and Other Planets


(Domino/Munich)


 


Adem's debut album, Homesongs, was a collection of incredibly delicate and fragile love songs (love in the broadest sense of the word). The degree of warmth was perhaps something of a surprise as the music of Fridge (the band he formed with Sam Jeffers and Kieran Hebden of Four Tet fame) tended to follow rigid and austere post-rock patterns. His follow up, Love and Other Planets, displays a marked progression – whilst some of the songs are similarly intimate others are far more muscular. The album also sports deftly intricate arrangements and improved production all round.


 


The track Warning Call opens the album. This is one of the songs that immediately recalls Homesongs – all plucked guitar and gentle percussion. It is only when the chorus arrives that the album's maturity and confidence becomes evident. Adem's voice is multitracked and his occasionally rasping voice is fleshed out into a warm and caressing sound. The sparse instrumentation of the verse is similarly fleshed out too. It is evident from this track alone that Adem has built on his debut album – he might still be using the same building blocks to create the sound, but if Homesongs seemed like a series of sketches then Love and Other Planets displays bolder and more confident brushstrokes.


 


A new addition to Adem's palette can be found on Something's Going to Come – drums. What started out in similar fashion to Warning Call lurches into something approaching a pop song as the drums herald a rousing chorus. X is for Kisses is so named because the albums lyrics form an acrostic. The lines to the song start A, B, C etc. with only X missed out because, as the song title states, X is for kisses. This sort of sentiment can easily come across as mawkish. As with Homesongs there are several such openhearted moments on Love and Other Planets but such is the nature of the songs that they never trip over into sickly sentimentality. X is for Kisses also displays the more sophisticated sound of the album. The usual instruments are in place – guitar, glockenspiel, and percussion - but the backing voices sing each of the letters as the relevant line is being sung. It is done very subtly so that it takes a couple of listens before you notice it.


 


The title track features Adem and a harmonium and is quietly affecting. "We are not alone" he sings as he looks out at Love and Other Planets. You and Moon is certainly one of the standout tracks on the album. A sawed double bass opens the track before an almost funky beat kicks in. Hand claps and other percussive noises float around a song that is simple on the surface and complex underneath. And it uses the word hypnogogic, which you don't come across very often. Elsewhere These Lights are Meaningful uses drums to effect what could almost be a rock song. However a song without a bass or an electric guitar is never quite going to appear as such. Given the instruments used the sound, whilst beat driven, feels open and uncluttered.


 


As you may have gathered by now there is a theme to the album. Space, in the sense of the space between us, as well as the space around us, is the central theme. On Spirals, for example, Adem's lover draws spirals on the back of his hand and it reminds him of the Milky Way. He thinks that if the galaxies of the Milky Way and Andromeda felt the way he and his lover do, even they could not feel as vast as them. Again, this might have someone feeling a little queasy but I can assure you that there is nothing of the greeting card corniness to the songs.


 


Love and Other Planets is more than a continuation of the sound of Homesongs. The album has built on the strengths of its predecessor and has blossomed. Warm, witty and incredibly humane this is the best work that Adem has produced so far. There is no doubt that it will be one of the albums of the year.


 


Words: Chris Dawson