Tennyson's 'Rot' Is Fresh

BY Dylan BarnabePublished Feb 18, 2022

There is a certain irony in creating your most dynamic music while suffering a hearing condition. That was the reality for Tennyson, a.k.a. Luke Pretty, as a hearing condition, caused by mould exposure, threatened to derail his first full-length LP. But instead of decay, the aptly named Rot achieves quite the opposite. It radiates growth and maturity from the young Canadian, whose journey down the rabbit hole of ear canal issues yields a cohesive album of pop-laced electronic tracks.

Following the critical acclaim of EPs Different Water and Telescope in 2019, the Edmonton musician steps out from behind his instrumental production to lend vocals to nearly each track. The result is an immediate sense of intimacy, with ballads like "Torn" paring down the glitch in favour of a more direct communion with the listener. You get the sense Tennyson spent a lot of time introspecting, and was forced to carry on and find the inner resolve to push forward with his work.

For being a record that clearly deals with intense internal and external turmoil, Rot is surprisingly palatable. No track extends much beyond the 4:30 mark, making for digestible and melody-driven songs. There are moments of levity, such as "Figure Eights," but also meditations on overcoming darker days as heard on "Doors". The track's nightmarish mood is underlined by staccato vocals and eerie piano melodies, and also by lyrics that discuss sleepless nights and not being able to "take it anymore." In this way, Rot is very much Tennyson making sense of his reality — perhaps most succinctly captured on "Iron," as he sings, "Run the riddle back again / Until I understand," or on "Leaves," as he croons, "It feels like it's all over now / But I carry on." There is resignation, yes, but also determination. 

There's an old adage that "beauty is pain." Tennyson certainly suffered pain in creating his debut album, but undoubtedly created beauty as well. Rot is an impressive first LP, and no doubt speaks to the young musician's promising future. 

Latest Coverage