What seems to be a slightly more cautious and intentional approach brings Single Tear’s Sounds From the Stars out from underneath J King’s previous body of work with the critical darling Family Video.
Family Video never exactly played by the rules either – but this album is a little more direct and close than others. It’s sweet, it’s odd, it’s sentimental, it’s silly. At times it feels like it’s filled with friends, and others, it feels so starkly lonely. But one thing it does do is use every inch of the air that it vibrates, to create distinct and effervescent moods.
J King’s clearly the front runner here, but Jake Nicoll’s fingerprints are all over this – and his quaint, unassuming voice makes a cameo on a couple of tracks too. In a way, the vocal dialogue and subtle piano reminds me of early Stars; but only if it were stripped to the bone of its polish and borne from Portland instead of Montreal. It’s got a charming roughness; an elegant inelegance. But there’s a majesty, a synth-laden grace that gives the album its character.
It’s this array of synths that masterfully fill out the cracks in the sparse songwriting. It’s a motif that works, but never feels forced. The shotgun passenger along for the ride on this roadtrip – an ever-present force that guides the music along. There’s also a striking lack of percussion. I mean, there’s almost always something, but it’s deep in the mix. There’s times that it’s hard to know what’s preprogrammed and what’s coming from a live kit, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s meant to be unassuming.
This is a weird little piece of work. There are few flaws that stick out, but it’s an eccentric little piece that won’t sit right with everyone either. However, I am a joyous fan of its unwavering oddness and I think you should be, too.