Ryan Hemsworth is your best friend that you'll (probably) never meet. The Halifax #sadboy’s iPhone must have a battery on the verge of collapse, with red notifications poking up at him rudely around the clock. With friendly fans on his social networks tweeting him Jigglypuff and puppy pics, he’s never alone – except for, y’know, actual, human interaction.
The video for ‘One For Me’, his collaboration with Tinashe, saw the producer living out a comfortable yet lonely life of room service and mini shampoo and soap sets – with only a MacBook to talk to. And this album continues on the theme of solace: “To a hotel room where you’re a million miles away,” sing the lyrics on ‘Snow In Newark’ (video below); “I want to be surrounded by you,” goes the chorus on ‘Surrounded’.
It’s a sad record, but one that envelops you in a warm hug, wipes your eyes and plays with your hair. On opener ‘Hurt Me’, synthesised plinks burst like tears, zapped by little video game lasers. ‘Walk Me Home’ has the kind of grandiose timpani hits that you might hear in the Royal Albert Hall, but these ones are built up to via whispers of jungle breaks. These sorts of juxtapositions are characteristic of an artist addicted to sampling and SoundCloud discovery. Sonically, nothing is off limits.
Some critics have slotted Ryan neatly (and incorrectly) into the trap (even EDM) folder, but this LP outlines his versatility – none of the tracks could be deemed as such. There are more breakbeats than triplet hi-hats and snares – in fact, there’s virtually none. The GTW pops up with some languorous rap on ‘By Myself’, but it’s a track whose unhinged harshness could have been helmed by Evian Christ.
On glancing at the album title, you might expect that this is Hemsworth gone solo. But in fact he brings Dawn Golden, Alex G, Lontalius and little cloud along for the ride – up-and-coming artists that he’s giving a platform to, á la his Secret Songs project on SoundCloud. Though he might be alone when he’s on tour, or while creating music, he’ll always have a host of admirers (in us, at least).
Words: Felicity Martin
– – –
– – –