If you’re a fan of Tycho, the electronic pop project headed up by erstwhile photographer/graphic designer Scott Hansen, you know what to expect with Awake: downtempo beats given a sunset-colored sheen by the recognizably curvaceous warmth of his synth tones and set aloft with some finely placed guitar and bass lines. And sure enough, here are eight tracks’ worth, well-appointed and ready to soundtrack your spring and summer months.
To that end, the album is a fine one. “Dye” and the opening title track build comfortably in waves before enveloping you in the full flower of its romantic, nostalgia-invoking melodics. And if you listen closely on a nice pair of earbuds, you can catch the little touches that Hansen tries to sneak past: a ghostly vocal that hovers in the background of “Awake,” the way the programmed drums slowly take over the real drum track on “Apogee.” It’s an album that rewards close listening.
Awake, though, doesn’t feel like much of an evolution for Hansen or his music. If it were made just three years earlier, it could have been released as a double CD with his previous album, Dive, without anyone crying foul. Methinks it’s a symptom of the amount of time Hansen spent on the road promoting his last album—a full two years of off-and-on concert dates. There was likely little time to map out new textures or maybe considering throwing a new synth into the mix. Someone this obviously talented deserves that kind of space and time to move forward artistically. Here’s hoping he finds it in the years to come.