Patrick Watson
Wave


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
October 19th, 2019 | 59 replies


Release Date: 10/18/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: See you on the other side.

Patrick Watson has not had an easy four years. He lost his mother and his best friend. He went through a hardening divorce. As Watson will valiantly insist, however, that’s not interesting – what is, is hitting the reset button and discovering yourself in a whole new light. Wave is the product of his personal and professional maturation, an evolved Love Songs for Robots that flourishes with warmth despite clear evidence of heartache. It’s an elegiac nod to the past that ultimately triumphs by celebrating the infinite capacity of the present. Watson overcomes grief and sets upon his journey forward with a breathtaking soundscape comprised of slow, building progressions that explode into sweeping melodies; all of this wrapped in the gorgeous trappings of pastoral dream-pop. Wave is an album that immediately engages your ears and slowly wins over your heart.

Make no mistake: this is Watson’s magnum opus. It’s lo-fi, although it sounds anything but sparse. Watson’s vocals permeate the room with desperation, while synths rise and fall so subtly that by the time a track reaches its emotional apex, you’re not sure how you arrived at that point. Piano keys ring out with a glass-tinged, reflective smoothness that causes them to sound as if they’re being played in a roofless cathedral beneath a starlit sky. Scattered warbles fade in and out of focus like a voice yearning to be heard from a dimension barely beyond our reach. Gorgeous female vocals chime in on ‘Wild Flowers’ and ‘Drive’ like angels descending upon Watson’s own person hell. Drums thump quietly, but with a definitive sense of finality. Strings punctuate his most poignant confessions, but never threaten to draw attention away from the sullen content. Wave is texturally and aesthetically jaw-dropping, perfected by an artist who clearly took his time accentuating the beauty and sadness of every moment.

The go-to comparison any time an album is born out of personal tragedy seems to be Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, and while there are emotional parallels (both artists lost their mothers), this record is obviously a different musical breed. Still, it helps to paint Wave in this same light in order to convey the significance of the work both musically (this is his most beautifully refined product) as well as personally (the total emotional transparency). There’s an aching sincerity to this album that previous works have achieved during key moments, but that Wave somehow maintains from front to end. It’s also Watson’s saddest sounding record – although certain lyrical passages do offer hope – and one that’s intangibles are matched by Wave’s musical cohesion. It all feels unified in a way that many records do not, and while stunning instrumentals/electronics fade in and out of the mix, they all fall under a similar stylistic canopy – like differing constellations within the same celestial sphere. Only truly great albums have the ability to concoct their own aura; this mystical and magical dwelling that anyone can retreat to. It’s another way that this record finds itself overlapping with other classics – you can play a clip of any song from this record and it’s instantly recognizable as a Wave song.

Wave is yet another example of an artist’s torment resulting in an exceptional work of art. Watson is impressive in his ability to balance the gut wrenching (“I never thought you'd ever really be gone, but I still sing along to yesterday's song”) with the hopeful (“Here comes the river over the flames”), but the prevailing aura here is surely dispirited. On some levels it feels wrong to benefit from it as a consumer, but when the output is this spellbindingly brilliant, it’s perhaps the greater sin to leave it go unappreciated. For what might be one of the last truly tragic indie albums of the decade, Wave is a laudable send-off as we bury our wounds and look towards the horizon with a glistening eye. We’ll see you on the other side.



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user ratings (31)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
October 19th 2019


35331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is the second album this year that I've directly compared to Carrie & Lowell, and I'm not sorry.

Digging: Westelaken - The Golden Days are Hard

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2019


10032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

God this year is too much

Digging: Stormlight - Natoma

luci
October 19th 2019


12521 Comments


seriously, no one can say the decade fizzled out

brainmelter
October 19th 2019


7115 Comments


yeah I’m overwhelmed tbh so many spontaneous releases I had no idea were coming

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2019


10032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gettin an Undersea vibe from this which I love

oltnabrick
October 19th 2019


39757 Comments


is this the guy from Insidious?

Digging: Cartier God - DownUnda

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2019


10032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes

Lord(e)Po)))ts
October 19th 2019


58068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not on the same level as the last one but some of these are bound to grow

Digging: Thomas - Balls On Yo Neck

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2019


10032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Broken is exquisitely miserable

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 19th 2019


35331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can't even pick favorites they're all so heartbreakingly pretty

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2019


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Any Carrie and Lowell comparison has got me hooked. Beautiful read as well: it has me feeling empathetic even though I have no familiarity at all with the artist

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2019


10032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this really is an emotional haymaker sheesh



This would be a masterpiece if there were a little more sonic/textural variety

CosmicPie
October 19th 2019


2617 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So superb.

JesperL
October 20th 2019


1148 Comments


listened to this a bunch today while working on uni stuff, sounded great. excited to listen more actively tonight

Digging: Catz 'n Dogz - Moments

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 20th 2019


35331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"This would be a masterpiece if there were a little more sonic/textural variety"

I feel as though I somehow both agree and disagree with this. There's plenty of variety in the aesthetic/accents and how he builds to different climaxes. But there's definitely a sonic cohesion to this that I could see someone saying is homogeneous. It's beautiful regardless, but I won't entirely disagree that if there was a singular weakness holding this back from instant classic status, it's that.

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2019


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Two listens and this hasn't really done anything for me. Gonna give it one more go and hope something clicks.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2019


25768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

NEW PATRICK WATSON ???? yessssssss



Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2019


10032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can’t decide if the opener or Broken is the best here, both 5/5 tunes

BrushedRed
October 20th 2019


3227 Comments


Melody Noir sounds like a male Lana

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2019


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, this just isn’t doing anything for me. Very pretty and obviously emotional, but not enough of either of those things to get me to connect to it



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