In the Age of Technology, a pop artist must be instant, timely and accessible to even stand a chance of winning listeners’ attention. Or at least, that’s the model that pop stars seem to be endorsing these days: drop a surprise album, watch the frantic scrabble ensue, and within 24 hours the hype is gone as quickly as it came. And more often that not, the music reflects that fleeting relevance.
Enter Australian-born Josef Salvat, a pop artist who not only abandons this model but also counteracts it with music that reveals itself more with every listen. Continuing his steady ascent to mainstream consciousness, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter arrives with the much-anticipated debut ‘Night Swim’, a lesson in how to survive the music industry whilst maintaining a relationship.
‘Open Season’ sets the scene with a steady thrum of slick electronics as Salvat squares his shoulders to enter the rat race. The glossy dance floor smash ‘Paradise’ continues along this theme, alluding to the façade of fortune and luxury. Upon first listen the sly wit that underpins the lyric only becomes evident in the closing moment: the snatch of stripped piano and somber vocals suggest that the production itself was façade to hide the sad, ironic flipside of lyric "Paradise is somewhere where you and I belong".
'Night Swim's finest hour is the cinematic ‘Shoot and Run’, an earlier release that proves to be the nexus of new and old tracks. The head-spinning oscillator coupled with Salvat’s murmuring vocal transports the listener to a trippy wonderland. And the singer proves himself once again as quite the wordsmith, spinning a stirring tale of a girl trained to kill- a metaphor that is most likely referring to the ruthless nature of the industry.
Throughout the album, there’s a penchant for linear melodies and production that bubbles beneath the surface, which allows Salvat’s compelling story telling to take center stage. But it’s when that production surges upward, prompting the singer’s melodies to take flight that you realize this was his intention all along; Josef Salvat’s masterstroke is conjuring moments of chaos from complete calm, and the results are majestic.
'Night Swim' may not be instant or immediately accessible but given repeat spins it reveals itself as a thrillingly original and utterly gripping LP - and that’s a little harder to forget.
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