The Tallest Man on Earth
I Love You. It's a Fever Dream.


5.0
classic

Review

by Atari STAFF
April 21st, 2019 | 100 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Seeing eye to eye with The Tallest Man on Earth

“Hotel Bar” might be one of the most haunting portrayals of loneliness I’ve ever heard. The opening act of I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream contains more of a personal touch than any Tallest Man on Earth album before it. The poignant guitar strumming and Kristian Matsson reassuring himself that things will be fine resonate with me unlike anything he’s written. It’s far from just a somber song with a soft guitar, however. The track bursts to life as it progresses - warm brass and harmonicas giving it a sturdy backbone and sense of hope. It’s musically gorgeous and a bit depressing, but man is it an effective portrayal of one man’s isolation.

For the most part, it’s this stronger connection between the audience and artist that makes I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream so special. As fantastic as fan-favorites Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt are, those albums felt more about a sense of adventure than getting beneath the thick skin of Kristian Matsson (save for the occasional track or two). Slowly but surely, he’s been removing the façade – reducing himself to just another guy. Dark Bird is Home was the first major turning point for his sound – a dreary but finely orchestrated break-up album molded from the ashes of divorce. With I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream, the artist continues his venture down a more intimate lyrical path, albeit this time in a more relaxed setting.

His latest album is more stripped down at times, but this proves to work out in the musician’s favor. Just because he’s capable of flashy playing doesn’t mean every track needs to be thrown into fingerpicking overdrive. We’ve already heard that before on The Wild Hunt! Dialing back the intensity, “All I Can Keep Is Now” feels like a tasteful throwback to '60s folk music – at times eerily similar to the classic “I Am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel. I don’t want to spoil the lyrics, but they are simply godly on this track. When needed, Matsson does still kick things up a notch musically, as evident in the stimulating guitar manipulation of “My Dear” and “I’m a Stranger Now.” All in all, this is one of his most balanced albums to date, combining bits and pieces that worked so well on past efforts with a much softer stroke.

Dark Bird is Home was a necessary step forward for Matsson’s music, but it sometimes bit off more than it could chew; some of the songs were just too drawn out and unfocused. I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream takes everything that worked well in that album – vulnerable lyrics, the dreamier structures – and refines them into a more straightforward, vintage folk sound. The orchestral touches are more subtle, but boy are they there. Lead single “The Running Styles of New York” would have fit right at home on his most divisive album, with an enticing cinematic feel flowing from pianos and strings so subtle they’re almost too easy to miss the first time. The entire experience – despite the production being so delicate and a bit foggy – is dressed up with bright horns, strings and more. This gives the audience so much to uncover with repeat listens aside from the fantastic lyrics. No other Tallest Man on Earth album finds Matsson busting out so much harmonica. If you didn’t already before, you’ll certainly get a classic Dylan vibe with the busy vibrations of “There’s a Girl” or “Waiting for My Ghost.” The harmonicas are always tastefully placed - never overdone yet giving the music an extra jolt of life and character.

Despite this, there are also some stylistic choices here that feel like a throwback to early Tallest Man on Earth releases. “I’m a Stranger Now” comes to mind - its joyful guitars in full bloom very reminiscent of “King of Spain.” Sure, it’s a familiar approach, but when the songwriting is “this” moving, it feels like anything but recycled. Lyrically, it’s one of songwriter’s most poignant, relatable moments – a song about seeking your independence and reclaiming your personal identity. It’s easy to forget that Matsson had a life partner – a shoulder to lean on in dark times – on the heels of The Wild Hunt. He’s had to regain his balance as a person, and that time is now.

It’s only fitting The Tallest Man on Earth’s most poignant album to date ends with the confessional, acoustic title track. Much more optimistic in tone, it fills the emotional holes Matsson revealed in “Hotel Bar” - closing the album out with a proper high. It’s a bit soon to say if I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream is his strongest album yet, but it doesn’t feel like much of a stretch. None of his albums have been immediate, and I’m still uncovering lyrical gems and thrilling highlights. All I know for sure: this is the most I’ve been able to see eye to eye with the nasally songwriter. His lyrics and guitar work hooked me since day one, but there’s a fragile, more human approach in the songwriting here that feels refreshing to me. I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream is an album for just about anybody; anyone who’s been lonely or unsure and just needs some reassurance. While it’s true it’s his saddest album yet – drawing more from a pit of personal pain than post-relationship blues – there are loads of hopeful lyrics and comforting tones that stand testament to Matsson moving on as an individual. “I’m a Stranger Now”, “Hotel Bar” and “All I Can Keep Is Now” are among his best work to date. Hell, let’s throw the slow-burning title track in there as well as one of his absolute best cuts. That one almost floated past me at first, but the man’s ability to make more of an impact with less is nothing short of astounding here. These tracks beg for repeats and feel equally moving and sincere each time. I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream is Matsson’s moment… again. It’s taken him years to reclaim his footing, but what a gorgeous, powerful album of self-discovery this is.



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user ratings (115)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
SowingSeason STAFF (2.8)
Same man, different Earth....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 21st 2019


24620 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

was tempted quote a ton of lyrics but they're really special and I don't want to spoil them too much



thx Sowing for letting me give my clearly 100% objective take on this ;]



hopefully it turned out ok..

Digging: Radiator Hospital - Sings "Music for Daydreaming"

Slex
April 21st 2019


6658 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cannot wait to read this!!

Hotel Bar is indeed just unbelievable

Digging: Full of Hell - Weeping Choir

Lucman
April 21st 2019


2553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet! Stunning review, Atari, makes me want to dig into this again. "Hotel Bar" and "Running Styles" are just fantastic. Love "My Dear" as well.

Digging: Shiina Ringo - Shouso Strip

AdolfChrist
April 21st 2019


20986 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can relate to Hotel Bar all too well, and this album is pretty sad in general, RIP my heart.

Digging: Deus Mortem - Kosmocide

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 21st 2019


24620 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers fellas



At first I just couldn’t stop listening to Hotel Bar and the 2 singles, but once the rest sunk in I was completely blown away. Last 2 tracks are my jams atm

Slex
April 22nd 2019


6658 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree with this review so much that I'm considering bumping my score lmao



Will just have to listen some more and see where I stand

dustandnations
April 22nd 2019


89 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Relistening after reading this review and I'm starting to feel how vulnerable and warm this record really is

AdolfChrist
April 22nd 2019


20986 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i think My Dear and What I've Been Kicking Around have my favorite guitar work.



Oh, memories I can't let go

I'm moving on but they run faster

dustandnations
April 22nd 2019


89 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yeah, My Dear has such a satisfying groove going on. Some of his best fingerpicking work ever

AdolfChrist
April 22nd 2019


20986 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i love all of the subtle things on this record, like on I'll Be a Sky where it sounds like he's quietly humming to himself while walking down the street.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2019


24620 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

couldn't agree more and the lyrics are so damn great on that track. you're right about his obsession with birds, haha



Slex
April 22nd 2019


6658 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I see Sowing is mad with power keeping this from showing up under staff reviews on the front page

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2019


24620 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol, yeah I guess I didn't realize when more than 1 staff cover the same album they won't all show up on the main page



was sooo excited to go purchase the vinyl for this but I guess it's not out until late June, ugh :/ oh well, it will be well worth the wait

AsleepInTheBack
April 22nd 2019


5983 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lovely contrasting piece, I agree a little with both of yus

Pho3nix
April 22nd 2019


632 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Maybe I should do a re-listen, I haven't really been hooked by anything other than 'The Wild Hunt'.



You either love or hate his vocal style

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 22nd 2019


30775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

I enjoyed your counter point as well, even though I don't agree. I'm going to keep listening to this sparingly in the coming weeks in hopes that I'll see what everyone else does. I've given it several exhaustive listens but I'm not abandoning it quite yet.

Digging: Plastic Mermaids - Suddenly Everyone Explodes

AdolfChrist
April 22nd 2019


20986 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cant stop listening to this, might throw a 4.5 on it.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2019


24620 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thx Ben! And appreciate it Sowing! no big deal if it doesn't click for you, your opinion is just as valid as mine - I just connected with this in such a way that I felt the need to write about it



and glad you're digging this so much Adolf

Sunnyvale
April 22nd 2019


1044 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Only listened to this twice so far, but it seems like the usual brilliance, he can do no wrong

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2019


24620 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

But we will travel past the beating rain

And be graceful, after all




And I keep the hope I carry

Little things so I can love

Wherever I go now




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