I have been itching to write a review on Adem's sophomore album, Love And Other Planets, ever since it was released in the UK earlier this year. I have been patiently waiting for the domestic release of the album, which will finally happen next week via Domino Records. Perhaps it is better that I forced myself to wait, allowing myself to get over the initial excitement of the new album so I could actually focus on the material itself. Unsurprisingly, I have no problem calling his new collection of folk-pop songs one of my favorite records of the year.
While some critics have said that Adem's homebrewed production doesn't adequately support his latest space-themed creation, I have to disagree. When I think about the vastness of outer space, the shining of stars and other galaxies, the acoustic arrangement of "Warning Call" works perfectly. Although his style hasn't shifted away much from his brilliant debut, Homesongs, he has polished his sound up a bit. For example, "Something's Going To Come" is the closest Adem has come to rocking out, breaking away from his use of delicate percussion and opting for a drum kit. Quite a bit more pop than folk, this shows Adem exploring a new musical direction, and it works.
"X Is For Kisses" brings Adem back to his experimental folk roots, creating a unique backdrop to the song by using repeated vocal noises. It is a bit tough to explain, but it does add a sonic texture that is truly his own. As the album goes on, one of the most apparent changes in his sound is his own voice. Although it was a fantastic focal point on Homesongs, he has pushed himself even further on Love And Other Planets. His vocals shine on the title track, soaring high above the accompaniment of violin and harmonium. He is able to evoke so much emotion with each phrase, making for a truly captivating listen.
One of the biggest surprises on the album is "Last Transmission From The Lost Mission," a strange composition laced with wind chimes, an occasional subtle electronic downbeat and sporadic electronic crackles, which brings to mind his appreciation of Bjork as seen in his recent NYC performance. Gently tugging us back to Earth, Adem nicely segues into the much more straightforward pop song "These Lights Are Meaningful." This could easily be a single with its infectious melody and sing-along chorus.
The album ends just as hauntingly as it begins, giving it a solid feeling of closure. The last track, "Human Beings Gather 'round," goes back to Adem's core instrumentation of harmonium and bells. Adem believes that the universe still holds something good for mankind as he concludes with "A miracle will happen soon / Holding hands there's still some hope." With an album filled with honest lyrics, heartfelt melodies and a childlike optimism, you'll find yourself staring at the stars wondering what else is really out there.