London based electronic producer and songwriter William Phillips AKA Tourist released his debut album in May, and it’s an absolute beauty.
Following a trio of EPs, U marks a distinct turn in the producer’s career; one unduly defined by the success of others. Stepping back from supporting the likes of Sam Smith – he co-wrote the Grammy winning single Stay With Me - has given Tourist essential room to develop and evolve his own sound.
Gone are the sun-kissed, playful musings of 2012’s Placid Acid. The slow burning intensity of Tonight has been stretched and moulded, continuing the sense of authorship that Tourist’s highly stylised output embraces.
Yet U eclipses the achievements of Tourist’s previous work, the transition from EP to LP offering a hitherto unexplored depth that is masterfully utilised.
At its heart, U is a breakup album; it’s fitting that My Love is the interlude, a small island of consolation buried in swathes of sorrow.
Wait embodies this experience of desolation, a melancholic outpour of the inevitable loneliness that follows the termination of a relationship. “I still wait” echoes as synth fades into piano then resurfaces, the mess of emotions conveyed through skirmishing sounds struggling to attract sufficient attention.
It all started out so serenely, with the vibrant palate of album opener U capturing the reckless enthrallment of love, the feeling of blissful, never-will-it-end, joy.
But the subsequent Just To Have You Back is immediately darker, a growling beast that delivers the album’s heaviest chorus with all the anger comes with rejection.
Dancefloor friendly Run contradicts the arc of growing discontent, an upbeat track that feels somewhat out of place embedded within the album, yet nonetheless it aptly showcases Tourist’s inherent flair for sampling.
Standout track Waves is a patient delight, a rolling, wishful blend of hypnotic drum loops and simmering synths.
Foolish blends Mura Masaian vocal samples with effortless precision, the addition of Nintendo-esque riffs juxtaposing adult realisation with childish joy; the first few dates, the dreamlike holiday, the calm before the storm.
Come Separate Ways, the denial has faded. This, alongside For Sarah, is the epilogue. Tourist has perfectly soundscaped a breakup: emotive, bitter, and stunningly authentic.
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