Moses Sumney has grown a lot since the release of his debut album in 2017, the ethereal Aromanticism. That album, while beautiful, had a lot in common with ambient music that could at times wash over you. He followed up with Black In Deep Red, 2014 which introduced a more rhythmic side to the artist over its three songs. That shift continues here on Grae, Sumney’s second studio album. Things kick off with the atmospheric spoken word track insula, with its chant of the etymology of the word isolation. As soon as that short introduction fades away however, thick, gooey base notes introduce the arrival of Cut Me, one of the best tracks Sumney has released. He calls it an ode to masochism, and while that might sound somewhat niche, the lyrics tell a story that almost any of us can relate to: ‘Might not be healthy for me, but seemingly I need‘.
On Aromanticism, Sumney dealt with some heavy topics, and that continues here. He is a man in love with the in-between; the spaces in between gender, sexuality, life and death. Just from looking at the song titles, it’s clear that this is going to be an album dealing in multitudes: also also also and and and, Neither/Nor, Polly. Where he succeeds however is in how accessible he has managed to make this album to the listener. Whereas Aromanticism needed its audience to pay attention to it, to actively choose to listen to it before it faded out, Grae grabs you and forces you to give it its dues.
Grae is also, it’s worth noting, a double album, coming in at 20 tracks and just over an hour. There are some moments when you can feel Sumney get a little self-indulgent in his art – Gagarin hangs around way too long, and in its wake the album feels like it takes a little while to pick up again, but rest assured, it does indeed recover the pace and get back on track as it heads into its second part, which is a much more languid yet beautiful affair than its more heady first section. Me In 20 Years is beautiful, and Sumney’s impressive vocals mesmerise on the atmospheric Bless Me. It’s exciting to be able to watch an artist grow as Sumney has here and carve out a place that is unique to them. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where he takes his craft from here.
|Me In 20 Years||Lucky Me|