bo en Figured Out The Future, Again
The British artist is at his best on “Sometimes.”
Last December, The FADER featured the ambitious British musician bo en on our list of 10 People to Watch in 2016 — he took a little while to make good on the promise of that pick, only releasing his first solo track of the year today, but it’s a superhuman leap forward for a guy already six steps ahead.
“Sometimes” reminds me of something Randy Newman said recently, in an interview with the L.A. Times, about his grandiose arrangements of the ’70s and ’80s: “I overcooked it.” Recently, Newman has been re-recording some of those old songs as stripped-down piano tracks, the idea being that his lyrics in that setting will come through more true. To my ear, though, Newman has taken the joy out of a good thing — the ineffable drama of a far-out, emotionally complex beat. Life is not so one-note, and sometimes sad songs hit harder when coupled with wacky sax.
All of which is to say: “Sometimes” is the sound of the Randy Newman back then, today. The digi-carnival sound that first brought bo en acclaim has been paired with more sophisticated songwriting and singing — so the direct impact of a silly-serious line like Sometimes I’m lonely/ And the only things I care about fall apart like macaroni meets with production moves that feel just the same. It's timeless in a way that could maybe only be created now.