Published Jul 22, 2015On his full-length debut Seraph, Montreal-born, Lake Hill-based singer/songwriter Thomas Arsenault manages to convincingly combine his penchant for heart-on-your-sleeve lyricism and dance floor oriented-beats to craft an almost-perfect collection of nostalgia-tinged pop songs.
It's been nearly two years since the release of his breakout single "Why," and all the elements that managed to grab the attention of the music media and fans alike are still present, but perhaps a little more polished, showcasing restraint. That isn't to say that his explosive vocals and four-to-the-floor synths have been removed — on the contrary, they're all the more present and essential — but they're tempered by the softer side Arsenault demonstrated on earlier cuts such as "Years" and "Yes," off of last year's excellent Worth EP.
Slow "Sick" blends into upbeat "Suffer," with his plaintive and raw delivery of "Don't you know I'm gone for good?" layered with flute, culminating in an impossibly catchy ditty that clocks in at a crisp 2 minutes and 51 seconds, like a short bombastic punk song. "Gun," featuring Hundred Waters frontwoman Nicole Miglis, showcases their natural chemistry through their back-and-forth delivery— which takes on epic proportions when backed with distorted live samples and trumpets that recall Woodkid at his most epic — before slowly drifting off into the night.
"Service" continues this orchestral streak, minus the vocals and an added emphasis on the multiple layers of electronic drum patterns that come together in beautiful cacophony. The discorded piano keys on "Garden," along with the lush strings and plucked synths, could easily find themselves in a Wes Anderson or Sofia Coppola movie, offering a perfect introspective and slowly winding background to his quivering vocals and poignant lyrics. "Arrows" is possibly the most spine-tingling and goosebump-inducing track on Seraph, marrying the synth-heavy work of fellow Canadian Trust with pure '80s male pop.
I would gladly unpack every song on the record, as there's ample material to comb through, but Seraph deserves to be discovered by the listener in all its intimacy, complexity and beauty. (Downtown)