Alexis Taylor, renowned for his disco beats for Hot Chip, and wavering vocals, has struck gold again with this solo album released via Domino Records, Beautiful Thing. A record of sumptuous piano playing and delicate vocals, wax lyrical in style, his highly produced haze of ten tracks will appeal to Hot Chip fans, and perhaps also those that follow the likes of the DFA label, particularly as UNKLE’s Tim Goldsworthy has had a hand in the production. It’s a bold delivery which often touches on the process of song-making, particularly with A Hit Song, and provides Alexis Taylor fans with a grounding in his talent.
He kicks the album off with Dreaming Another Life, establishing the sound of the album for the next nine songs. Stunning vocals offset by industrial scruffs, an electronic backing, he indulges his listeners with lyrics such as “I’m dreaming another life, it’s one I can’t hold inside” whilst showering us with treated guitar, unexpected brass, and electro beats. The title track, Beautiful Thing, is a builder, instantly more up tempo than Dreaming Another Life, percussion dominating, layer upon layer, it’s a stunning track to follow, reminding us of his previous work, yet also showcasing his maturity in lyric-writing.
His intimate Deep Cut, a down tempo ballad, is an interesting song that feels as though it is directed towards you as the listener. “What you need is a new start, what you get is a false heart… make something I can feel, don’t get caught up in what’s not real,” feels somewhat like a preaching message, and has a real sad tone to that message. Roll on Blank Tapes and A Hit Song are those which get us thinking about the making and writing of songs, containing words such “roll on blank tapes, we have nothing to say” alongside sumptuous sounds and tails of piano, and “the tears run down your cheek, and the middle I twist into the groove” fronting discord and piano, stripped back, allowing for the delicacy of the track and the voice to shine through. It makes it impossible not to hang onto Taylor’s every syllable.
Distinctively Alexis Taylor but with high production values, there is a romantic, reflective haze that surrounds this record, which is culminated with bare piano, raw falsetto and avant-garde electro. As soon as the first track hits you there is no doubt about who you are listening to, and with the maturity of a musician that has been recording albums since 2004, allowing the darkness to emerge between the thrills of light. Poignant and sonically visceral, there is much anticipation for Taylor’s future work, but for now this will satisfy.
Beautiful Thing was released on 20th April by Domino Records.