After impressing many with his Pink Mirror record last year, Jeremy Tuplin now returns with an equally perceptive and self-effacing set of tales on Violet Waves. Re-embracing the glam rock shimmer of his 2017 debut I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut, the folk rock surrealist’s third album represents a hugely enjoyable, drug fuelled space odyssey.
Tuplin is a natural storyteller with a playful, conversationalist approach. His wry lyrics bring the record’s oddball characters to life, before subtle shifts in his voice create dialogue between them. Each line rolls seamlessly into the next (“from the messiah to the idiot, a line of wounded souls”), with hanging notes used to punctuate ballads in Bill Callahan form.
“When I was young, I would go swimming through shallow daydreams … and in the local bathing pool,” Tuplin confesses on the beautifully expansive ‘Swimming’. The listener is kept on their toes throughout – lines that sound like the start of a wistful muse may end up providing the set up for a punch line. There are plenty of bizarre dream sequences to get lost in too, not least the self-declared ketamine dream ‘Killer Killer’ (special mention to the murderous porcupine subplot).
But Tuplin’s musical versatility and tenderness make Violet Waves more than a collection of zingers. ‘The Idiot’ grows more world weary and cynical as its galloping rhythm unfolds, while the nimble guitar harmonics on ‘She Speaks to Me’ create a poignant calm. Elsewhere, flailing violins, rumbling guitars and imaginative spacecraft bleeps all add to the record’s sense of mystery and strengthen its emotional scope. With its shoegaze effects and meandering guitar solo, standout single ‘Space Magic’ is a mellow high.
Violet Waves mixes cosmic wonder with everyday mundanity. “Like a dog sat staring at… This Morning on a TV screen”, its cast of lost, often distracted characters are skittish yet human. Some songs radiate warmth, others feel dark and disorientating, but nearly all home in on a sense of a joyful absurdity.
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