It’s stating the obvious, but Hayden Thorpe is a bloody good musician, isn’t he? Seconds after hearing those spotless synths and his reassuring falsetto on Moondust For My Diamond, you know you’re in safe hands. True to form, his second solo album post-Wild Beasts has a workmanlike approach. It effortlessly satisfies with tactile production, charming melodic turns of phrase, and hooks that gently linger long after you’ve listened.
That comforting tone is matched in the record’s approach to its central themes of cosmic mystery and spiritual awakenings. “What does it all mean?” Thorpe asks, perfectly content to bask in the nice sounds rather than looking for a concrete answer. His polite and sophisticated approach to dance grooves on tracks like ‘Parallel Kingdom’ and ‘Golden Ratio’ knowingly borders on New Age cheese, but like the existential questions that Thorpe sings of, it’s safer to relax into the wondrous atmosphere than to think about the specifics too hard.
The record barely operates above a simmer. Its pristine approach to electronica implies “everything in its right place” without the accompanying dread of organised chaos. It’s just…organised. Given it deals with a topic as big as, um, the meaning of everything, those who find cosmic questions more terrifying than enjoyably mystifying might wish for a bit more musical tension, but that’s not where Hayden Thorpe is. Moondust omits all the suffering and cruelty in the universe, in favour of aphorisms like “The universe is always right” and “The fantasy’s real, don’t believe in ‘not’”. His skill as a songwriter is enough to carry us through this pleasant journey, but you might still be left wondering what the point of it all is.