No longer shackled to the James Blake emo-dubstep fusion that fleshed out his 2010 debut, Great Western Laymen, Rudi Zygadlo incorporates a plethora of seemingly incongruous influences into his developing vision. Tragicomedies sees the Glaswegian producer dropping cerebral lyrics softened by sweet melodies over lush arrangements hinting at styles from the first half of the 20th century and earlier, from early rock to folk and classical. As Zygadlo's production has a more polished execution, seamlessly integrating organic and synthetic sounds with greater variety, his growing confidence in his electro-crooning vocals is obvious. While consistently double-tracked and modulated with bizarre effects, his voice is significantly more distinct, nuanced and tuneful than before, its natural timbre allowed to shine through the mix in parallel with its processing. Importantly, unlike Blake, Zygadlo allows for his maudlin sense of humour to come through from time to time. The whimsical doo-wop of "Waltz For Daphnis" charms with its waning horns and "I'm not garish enough for your love" refrain, while "Variously Made Men" pairs an uplifting, folky, accordion-led instrumental with lyrics about regret and moving on granted levity by a "wow-wah" crying approximation. Suffice it to say, Zygadlo comfortably defies the sophomore album slump with this one.
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