Westerman’s folky, architectural avant-pop landed on our radar earlier this year with the release of his single “Confirmation” and the London singer-songwriter’s murky sonic worlds have continued to impress with its B-side “I Turned Away,” as well as “Edison,” and “Easy Money.”
The Artist To Watch’s latest offering, “Albatross,” leads off his forthcoming Ark EP. It has a warmer, more chamber-pop adjacent feel than some of his more electronic or jazz-influenced work, sounding less like Arthur Russell than a synthesizer-adept millennial Belle & Sebastian or a left-field Fleet Foxes track. Over gentle drum machine patter Westerman suggests, “Take me somewhere new/ Maybe a lake nearby some view. Wouldn’t that be nice?/ We could spend the day there,” in a plaintive tone that seems to mourn impossibility of such simple pleasures. He introduces new elements — an aquatic sheet of synths, a second beat, a vocal echo, meticulous designs of guitar-plucking, synthetic gossamer thread beeps — so subtly that you hardly notice as his full but weightless orchestra closes in around you.
On “Albatross,” Westerman immediately throws a shadow over the idyllic scenes he conjures, coloring them with loss and ambivalence through lines like “We won’t miss the madness… we don’t need to be the same/ Where cracks in the frame were” as well the emblem of the albatross, rock music’s favorite literary allusion: a metaphor for bad luck or a psychological burden that feels like a curse. But you don’t really need to follow Westerman’s lyrics to get lost in the song’s melancholic mood, often the most powerful part of his music.
“‘Albatross’ is set on a lake in my mind where I go to escape the worries of day to day existence,” Westerman says in a shared statement about the track. “It’s a more innocent and natural place. There is a growing impingement on that place as time starts to feel like it moves faster, and more demands emerge. The song looks at that threat both to the physical environment and our own psychology through the inevitability of an ever changing landscape.”
03 “Outside Sublime”
The Ark EP is out 11/9 via Blue Flowers Music.