A poppier iteration of James Blake, SOHN stole my attention throughout the whole month of April when Tremors dropped. It endured all year, and now here it is, the fifth best album of the year. Because love lost is more than just painful, it’s poetry.
This album does not overwhelm. It remains steady and engaging, but somehow managed to take hold of all my senses as I listened to it. The vocals are soft and endearing, and the lyrics are polite and honest. For all the reasons that it shouldn’t be an album to bother listening to, it becomes an album not to miss.
The opening track, “Tempest,” displays his favorite mixing technique of layering cut melodies over one another to create a rhythm for the song to follow. He adds in gentle lyrics and a bass line, and even some drums make the song danceable. And then he strips it down again, just to enjoy the echoes in the background with the original rhythm. And the rest of the album follows. “The Wheel” makes it very clear that, although his lyrics can seem simple and cliché at times, they work with all the emotional levels of music behind it. “Bloodflows,”my favorite track on the record, gives the appeal of focusing on SOHN’s heartbreak with an average, even banal melody behind the vocals, then breaks my own heart with the riff halfway through the song.
Tremors is not an unexpected album but it pulls no punches. Like your favorite Radiohead album, you are unable to focus on anything but SOHN as the tracks wear on. A beautiful snapshot of the status quo, Tremors is one of 2014’s best albums.