Listen to Kristian North's New Album 'Passion Play'
The record features previously released singles "Halfway to Heaven," "Fantasy," "Genius of Song" and "Shadow of the Pyramids"
Published Apr 30, 2021After doling out a handful of singles earlier this year, former Babysitter frontman Kristian North has now delivered his sophomore solo album Passion Play in full. The record arrives today through Montreal-based label Mothland, and you can listen to it in full here at Exclaim!
Featuring previously released singles "Halfway to Heaven," "Fantasy," "Genius of Song" and "Shadow of the Pyramids," the album finds North trading in his guitars for synths and drums machines, conjuring an '80s sensibility through Passion Play's eight tracks.
From the dystopian sci-fi of "Fantasy" to the romantic revelations of "Halfway to Heaven," North employs a short story narrative-driven songwriting style over his signature downtempo soft-rock love songs being billed as "sophisti-pop."
North said of the release in a statement:
I wanted to write a short set of pop songs. I wanted the songs to stand alone, and put more effort into their unique complexity, lyrically and sonically. If this group of songs don't always sound consistent, it was a deliberate choice. I didn't want to make a concept record, or anything sprawling. To ensure I kept it short, I bought only one reel of analog tape — we physically couldn't go beyond half an hour.
Since it's a collection of short stories, there's no one theme. There's vaguely cynical love songs ("Fantasy", "Halfway To Heaven", "More Than Yesterday"), psychedelia ("Eye Of Love", "Shadow Of The Pyramids"), and tales of desperate losers ("I See You Everywhere", "Tilted").
I made a rule for myself to write it on piano because I felt like I was going through the motions with my repertoire after years writing on guitar. I became re-enamoured with songwriting and keys became a very big part of the sound of the record. There's organ on every track but one and synth experimentation throughout.
The new wave of Prefab Sprout and Scritti Politti, late Marvin Gaye and ZAPP were really big for me during the time I was making the record. I'm not sure if any of those influences come through but I hear them in subtle ways.
Passion Play was produced by Renny Wilson and mastered by Harris Newman. The album marks North's follow-up to 2018's The Last Rock'n'Roll Record.
Listen to Passion Play in full below, where you can also revisit North's recent music videos. Check out Exclaim!'s 8/10 review of the album.