Passenger (UK)
Whispers


4.5
superb

Review

by Rowan5215 USER (18 Reviews)
June 7th, 2014 | 58 replies | 1,944 views


Release Date: 06/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Everyone's filling me up with noise, I don't know what they're talking about

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

People are always asking me what makes Passenger special, and an answer never seems ready to come to mind. On the surface, there is nothing particularly outstanding about the technical abilities of the UK's Mike Rosenberg. His voice, while strong and delicate by turns, is fairly limited in range; his guitar skills are above average but a fair way from being excellent; and almost all of his songs seem to follow your basic singer-songwriter formula that has guided so many other easily-forgotten faces and names to their brief moments in the sun. Sure, back when Passenger were a five-piece band they certainly stepped outside the singer-songwriter boundaries every now and then with their economical use of keyboards (see: "Girl I Once Knew") but since Passenger became Rosenberg's one-man band, he can't be said to have broken any new ground as far as the genre is concerned. In saying that, in order to answer such a difficult question one has to look at how all the aforementioned aspects come into play: how his plaintive voice suddenly switches from quiet reservation to unabashed emotive declaration, how his gentle guitar melodies act as a backdrop for something bigger; ultimately, one has to recognise that every aspect of Passenger's music is effectively emotional support for the stories he spins. His stories, whether funny or sad, whether bitterly nostalgic or grudgingly hopeful, are always written with an unmatched power of lyricism and emotional delivery that places Passenger far above his peers.

Rosenberg himself said of Whispers that "There are lots of big stories and big ideas," and this certainly comes across in the diverse range of tones and moods spread out across the record. In truth, one of Passenger's most positive career aspects has been his ability to create a variety of emotions in the listener, from the internet porn line that made us laugh in "Staring at the Stars", to his list of bitter yet hilarious quips in "I Hate", to the end of "Table For One" as it rips your heart out of your chest; and in this sense, Whispers feels more than anything like a career retrospective as it revisits and showcases the entirety of Passenger's expansive emotional range in just eleven tracks. It's easy to just point at the one-two punch of "Golden Leaves" and "Thunder" to demonstrate this; how Rosenberg cleverly follows the bitter reminiscence and unrelentingly depressing soundscapes of the former with the fantastically upbeat, bongoes-and-horns, wordlessly vocal joy that is the latter: the songs act as polar opposites which testify to the range of Passenger's sound, such as it is. But really, we see him at his best when effortlessly combining the two moods into one, as can be seen magnificently accomplished in album standout "27":

"Twenty seven years, twenty seven years done, written six hundred songs only twelve get sung
Eighty seven thousand cigarettes have passed through these lungs and every single day I wish I'd never smoked one
A week brushing my teeth and a week getting my hair cut, eight years sleeping I'm still tired when I wake up
A whole year eating and I still lost weight, ***, five proper girlfriends and five messy break-ups
Twenty seven birthdays, twenty seven New Year's, thirty thousand quid just so I could have a few beers
Ever dying old hopes, ever growing new fears, don’t know where I'm going but I know how I got here."


His nothing-short-of-genius use of rhyme and seamless transition between moods is so damn glorious because it is so genuine. All Rosenberg does is take the brilliant madness of everyday life and put it into words: whether beautifully poetic and loaded with imagery, see "Bullets", or just heartfelt and plainly put as in "Rolling Stone", Rosenberg's way with words is second to none. Still, this is hardly the only important aspect of the album, and more than ever he seems to be aware of the need to broaden his musical palette. Following from the gradually increasing inclusion of guest vocalists, horns and drums that started in 2010's Flight of the Crow and continued in 2012's All the Little Lights, Whispers is more comprehensive and more sonically diverse than anything he has released in the past. Along with the aforementioned joyous sonic explosion of "Thunder", Rosenberg employs horns to fantastic effect throughout the album, creating an ominous mood for the surprisingly desolate-sounding "Start a Fire" just as they brighten the mood considerably for the beginning of the magnificent "Scare Away the Dark" (more on that later). At the same time, he is aware when what a song needs is space to breathe, and strips back to largely his own voice and guitar as with Wide Eyes Blind Love-era Passenger on lead single "Heart's on Fire" and the first half of the title track. The latter of these contains an ending which, without exaggeration, could possibly be Passenger's greatest achievement to date musically. The song builds from its humble, sparse beginnings to an increasingly layered, heart-wrenchingly cathartic climax of horns, drums and impassioned vocals before quickly settling back down to bear witness to a breath-takingly poignant final line: "You see, all I need's a whisper in a world that only shouts". And if this stupendous moment is Rosenberg's highest point musically, then it truly stands testament to his amazing talent that he can write some of his greatest and most potent lines alongside it. Which brings me to the final song, "Scare Away the Dark".

Already pushing its way towards being at the very pinnacle of his discography, Whispers' closing track is a masterpiece in every aspect, but most especially for being his grandest statement lyrically, and the brilliant culmination of every story he has told from the beginning of his career. Careening earnestly from bitter social commentary to heartfelt prose, Rosenberg proves beyond doubt that he is one of the finest songwriters of a generation.

"Well, we wish we were happier, thinner and fitter,
We wish we weren't losers and liars and quitters
We want something more, not just nasty and bitter
We want something real, not just hashtags and Twitter

It's the meaning of life, and it's streamed live on YouTube
But I bet Gangnam Style will still get more views
We're scared of drowning, flying and shooters
But we're all slowly dying in front of ***ing computers."


In closing, it is the social commentary at the heart of "Scare Away the Dark" that truly seems to drive Whispers and provide Rosenberg with the fuel to sing his songs. It is therefore fitting that, at the album's emotional high-point in the explosive climax of the title track, Rosenberg sings "Everyone's filling me up with noise, I don't know what they're talking about". With the over-blown success of "Let Her Go" in 2012, Rosenberg seems aware more than ever that the world we live in is a chaotic one, filled with noise and confusion and miscommunication. And yet, it is truly remarkable that in the midst of all this there are artists who can still inspire a simple, powerful emotion in those who listen to them: and like the best of these, Rosenberg has proved time and time again that he can do it using nothing but his words and an acoustic guitar.
So sing, and sing at the top of your voice.



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user ratings (11)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album's streaming here on iTunes: http://itunes.com/passenger
hoping someone on this website adores this guy as much as I do

Digging: Dot Hacker - How's Your Process? (Work)

Sleaper
June 7th 2014



3317 Comments


this guys the epitome of unoriginal music.

total fucking fraud

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

prove it

Sleaper
June 7th 2014



3317 Comments


complete clone of what was the most unoriginal band ever (mumford)

hes just another fraud jumping on the indie folk hype train

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

He's actually been around longer than Mumford and Suns plus different genres so u wot m8

Sleaper
June 7th 2014



3317 Comments


different genre?
shiiiiiiiiiiet, i guess i just really hate the mainstream hype genre-trains.

anyway, i heard this guy once, and that was enough for me. review is well written, but unoriginal musix aint for me holmes

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I'd say so anyway, M&S are pretty much indie whereas Passenger is singer-songwriter. Maybe some people don't see the difference but eh
Fair enough, its cool if you don't like it, thanks for reading the review though man

ButteryBiscuitBass
June 7th 2014



9742 Comments


Superb review, rowbro. I don't care much for this guy though. I'd karate chop his left bollock if I saw him in the street, true story.

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well yeah but that's just how you Brits normally greet each other, isn't it? ;)
thanks a lot manbro

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2014



13436 Comments


Damn, you dissected this album thoroughly. I'm too tired to give an in-depth critique but the only glaring problem is (pretty frequent) run on sentences, but it's all good.

Super kewl review rowbro < 3

Digging: Krusseldorf - Fractal World

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

He finally looked at it! whew
I know, I know, I'm still trying my best to cut down on all the over-verbosity and such, its a bad habit, but I'm getting there
thanks babe :D

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2014



13436 Comments


ur welcome but i doubt i'd like this based on what you said D:

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I played a song from it in plug when it was just me and you in there - ;) - dunno if you were paying that much attention though
Doubt if its the kind of thing you'd like though but in case you didn't realise I REEAAAAAAAAAAALLYYY fucking love his lyrics

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2014



13436 Comments


Ye i prob just muted and autowooted and started clappity clappin while listenin to hecker i'm a terrible friend

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awful human being agreed

ButteryBiscuitBass
June 7th 2014



9742 Comments


lol

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2014



13436 Comments


neg

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

neg comment

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2014



13436 Comments


ur avatar is hitler

Rowan5215
June 7th 2014



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And I'm still the mature one here



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