These are tracks that could easily be ballads slipped into a Hot Chip record, but where there they’d be bolstered with synths and programmed beats, here they are stark and knowingly bold in their simplicity. ‘In The Light of The Room’ is a marked standout.
Alexis himself observes the record as “an atheist’s gospel album” and indeed the songs have an almost religious tone. There is deep reverence at play here and it is effortlessly affecting and free from ambiguity. Though his cover of Elvis’ ‘Crying In The Chapel’ holds the most obvious connection to faith, even then the message of “I’ve searched and I’ve searched and I couldn’t find/ a way on earth to gain peace of mind” reflects more a universally relatable struggle of finding solace than a subscription to any dogma or deity. These songs are tactile, human and weaved with themes that transcend belief: loneliness, loss, perseverance, honesty and ultimately love. Human spirit triumphs and, equally importantly, so does Taylor.
Taylor has said that the album was inspired by the death of a close friend, and the effect of hearing his quavering tenor shorn of his parent band’s synthy adornments is like eavesdropping on a deeply private recital. At times it works beautifully: opener I’m Ready provides a reminder of just what a lovely, evocative voice Taylor has, while a reworking of Hot Chips’s So Much Further to Go brings out a soulfulness barely glimpsed in the original. But in its second half, Piano begins to suffer from its stripped-back simplicity, when its sparse arrangements and slow pace start to feel plodding rather than profound.