Nostalgic romanticism isn’t such a bad thing nor is it an indication that fresh ideas are hard to come by this day and age. It is merely an appreciation and celebration of the past along with its glorious milestones and shortcomings for they have shaped us and will continue to influence our present and future endeavors.
When ‘Tropics’ (Chris Ward) first started, one can argue that he channeled nostalgia in all his musical endeavors as he took influences from the sound of his youth like post punk and 70’s jams among others. But that’s not necessarily an exploitative cash grab or perhaps a lazy attempt at marketing. ‘Tropics’ clearly respected the past and was cognizant of the present and blended them musically with such deft hands wherein both were celebrated and never bastardized for the sake of publicity.
Over the years however, ‘Tropics’ has exponentially grown musically and has literally found his own voice in the process. If he was content in hiding his voice behind the haze of dreamy retro pop and ambient acid jazz soundscapes in his full-length debut album ‘Parodia Flare’, his latest effort ‘Rapture’ is noticeably a more assured and confident vocal offering with a deeply personal subject matter that exposed listeners to vulnerable melodies and emotions. As one Pitchfork reviewer observed: “Rapture conjures an atmosphere of confessional intimacy.”
I couldn’t agree more. ‘Rapture’ is a more passionate and empathetic album that shows ‘Tropics’’ growth as a composer and as an artist. By leaving his comfort zone and not being afraid to expose his vulnerabilities, he has found his voice and most especially himself.
Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. What’s certain is that ‘Rapture’ is a step in the right direction. Let’s just hope that he’s going to stay the course because honesty and authenticity in the songwriting process is as hard if not harder to come by than a fresh idea.