Alex Barck has slowly been drip-feeding tracks from his Reunion album for most of this year but this is the first opportunity we've had to hear the whole album, due out on Sonar Kollektiv tomorrow, in its entirety.
Reunion lives up to the promise of all those singles. The album is inspired by Barck's move to the staggeringly picturesque La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and those singles still boast a glossy tropical sound. "Re-Set" still comes across like the soundtrack to a pure blue landscape, the sea extending to the horizon only to meet more expansive blue sky. Jonathan Bäckelie, AKA Ernesto, featured and co-wrote both "Don't Hold Back" and "We Get High" on previous releases. The former's bluesy anger is still spat like bullets from Bäckelie's mouth, but it's joined by a new and similarly deep track in album opener "Doubter", which sways as a windy percussion stirs around the vocals and conjures a disco soul track with Eastern influence.
Pete Josif, the White Lamp vocalist who delivered the "Re-Set" vocal and also resides on Sonar Kollektiv, delivers another track in "Spinning Around'. It's similarly enthusiastic, full of dreamy couplets that capture the spring of love only to be followed with doubting and pleading at the thought of it all falling apart. "Move Slowly", with a building cacophony of noise, sounds like a foreboding hot mess of excitement.
There are several instrumentals sandwiched between the vocalised cuts and they shine just as brightly. The album concludes with the title track, itself a climatic 11-minute instrumental that starts gently but slathers the gently composed melodies in clattering drums and warbling bass to create a fitting full-stop amongst the sound of birds circling...
Reunion is undoubtedly one of my favourite albums of this year. It has a widescreen vision and is full of detail and yet it also feels remarkably restrained, free of gimmicks and skits and just focused on one crucial thing: deliver 12 remarkable tracks.