Material Me

Written by: TL on 27/07/2013 12:50:19

Making waves at first with Tides Of Man, then leaving and ending up in conversations as new vocalist for Saosin, Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance, it's no wonder Tilian Pearson's name has been somewhat of a hot topic. That alone should be reason enough for us to check out the man's solo effort "Material Me", even if he has acknowledged in interviews that it was an effort entirely dedicated to experimenting with the pop genre, and an opportunity to build everything around his vocals. I guess in that you also have the explanation for why it's taken me a while to get into- and get around to reviewing it.

Considering that Tilian ended up with Dance Gavin Dance (at least for the time being) I guess it made a strange kind of sense to expect "Material Me" to be all soulful crooning and r'n'b, just like former DGD singer Jonny Craig's solo effort, but that however, turns out to be pretty far from the truth. Just like the upcoming DGD album, "Material Me" is produced by Matt Malpass, and if you haven't read about it elsewhere, just hearing the album should quickly give you the understanding that the choice of producer has much to do with Pearson's fascination with Malpass' work with Leighton Antelman in The Cinema. Pearson's high pitched singing has been layered in production in a way that makes him sound highly similar to Antelman's work with Lydia and The Cinema, lending him a soft and slightly lazy tone that's cast in a soundscape of chilled, wide-eyed synth-playing similar to what fans of PlayRadioPlay will remember from that project's first record.

As Pearson has admitted however, this whole thing centres around his voice and his vocal melodies, and this also makes a sort of sense, because he is indeed a rather gifted melody writer, dialling up some catchyness early with opener "Now Or Never" which features Issues singer Tyler Carter on guest vocals, and keeping up this panache for most of the album by consistently serving up lines that are easy to recognise and sing along to.

Unfortunately, the all out focus on the singing only eventually makes me question whether even the greatest singers in the world could keep a listener's attention for a full album of music, where all other instruments are subdued to making background noise as is the case here. If this is possible, then I have to conclude that Pearson's melodies aren't that strong. His performance is so persistently 'floaty' and without lows that it never gains any gravity that pulls you in and gets you interested in what the songs are actually about (not that my limited forays into the lyrics have yielded any great depth). Hence it's only natural for your ears to stay peeled for some instrumental contrast, yet despite some Two Door Cinema Club-ish vocal effects that give way to some dubstep-lite on a highlight song like "Chemicals", it's really hard to notice any stand-out instrumentation on here.

Eventually then, I'm forced to conclude that despite my rather unashamed liking for pop-music, "Material Me" isn't really doing it for me even after a dozen attempts. It strikes me as a prototypical example of a record that's glossy and catchy and then not much else. On one hand, while inspired by the Malpass/Antelman collaboration, the album completely lacks the drama and immersiveness on their best work (Lydia's "Illuminate") and on the other, it also doesn't do much as a fun, fleet-footed, pop-experiment, when compared to efforts from that category, like fun's "Some Nights", Marianas Trench's "Ever After" or even Hellogoodbye's aging "Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!". So Mr. Pearson, I'm sorry, for while I'm dying to hear more of your work with Dance Gavin Dance, this stuff right here just strikes me as the musical equivalent to blue candyfloss.


Download: Now Or Never, Favor The Gods, Chemicals
For The Fans Of: Lydia, The Cinema, PlayRadioPlay, Two Door Cinema Club
Listen: facebook.com/tilian

Release Date 11.06.2013
Vital Records

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