I’ve been waiting impatiently for Vindahl’s debut solo album for quite some time. Four years in the making, the Boom Clap Bachelor has taken his time to produce a soulful electronic pop album of such dizzying quality that it’s not hyperbole to label it an instant classic. Each and every cut on the fifteen track album is imbued with a distinctive stamp that singles Serendipity out as a timeless collection, hopefully destined to become so much more than a cult classic, or just the preserve of the music cognoscenti.
The influence of the best eighties electronic pop (New Order, Prince, Talking Heads, classic Trevor Horn etc.) bears heavy on Serendipity. However, what makes this album so electrifying is Vindahl’s ability to coalesce these sometimes disparate and familiar influences into a set of addictive cuts with an individual style aside from his peers. The influences may be drawn from pop’s last golden age, but Serendipity doesn’t simply appeal as a result of its retro qualities, and there’s no tongue-in-cheek, I Love the 80s sheen, as you’d find on an album by groups such as Chromeo. The care and craft exhibited via the composition, performance and production single Serendipity out as a deeply satisfying pop album, irrespective of its release date.
Serendipity is first and foremost a pop album. However, it’s a style of pop out of favour with the manufactured bulk of the Top 40. Like the best pop album’s, Serendipity is packed to the rafters with short, well crafted songs with thoughtful lyrics that initially hit thanks to strong hooks and sweet melodies. However, as the listener spends more time with Serendipity, the substance below the attractive surface reveals itself, until we’re so deeply submerged that the music plants itself in our souls; the crisp and clean production giving way to a suite of resolutely soulful songs.
There are genuinely no bad tracks on Serendipity. I initially considered an in-depth track-by-track review, but quickly realised it be folly. While the songs may immediately hit with the listener, this is not because Vindahl delivers simple, easy to consume, constructions. After numerous headphone sessions, it became apparent that it would be well beyond my (already questionable) abilities to deconstruct, analyze, or comment interestingly on the songs on Serendipity. While cuts such as Sometimes, The Question, Monday I Die and Inside Out are immensely satisfying pop songs, there’s an elusive, deeply engaging, quality to them (both musically and lyrically) that necessitates further spins. As I tried to unravel the tracks, I would find myself, all over again, caught up in their indefatigable catchiness. Serendipity is defined as making a fortunate discovery by accident. It is thus the most appropriate name for Vindahl’s debut album which boasts a collection of tracks that enchant, but defy close scrutiny, embodied with magic beyond the science of music construction. Surely that’s the defining characteristic of soul music!
Serendipity is resolutely Vindahl’s album with few guest vocalists, with those included only adding to the party. Tuco Ifill turns up on Versatile, while Quadron’s Coco features on Head Over Heals. However, the most satisfying vocal collaboration comes in the shape of The Question featuring Swedish pop star, Jenny Wilson. Soul boys and girls that lapped up D’Sound‘s Spice of Life CD back at the tail-end of the nineties will be drawn to this track thanks to its sophisticated meld of jazz, soul and pop.
Serendipity stands alone as a pop album with mass appeal and the sophistication to appeal to the more serious listener. For those that like their vocalists knee deep in grits, Vindahl’s ethereal and delicate pop voice will perhaps, sadly, prove to be a barrier to entry. However, there’s no denying the soul imbued in cuts like Down, Sometimes and Monday I Die.
After I initially heard Vindahl’s solo work a year or so back, I had a strong feeling that his debut would be excellent, however, I wasn’t prepared for how much it would affect me, which is surely a serendipitous state of affairs!
You can preview Serendipity via the excellent Tokyo Dawn Records website. It’s currently available to purchase in MP3/FLAC formats with the CD officially released on October 17th.
Fave cuts: Down, Sometimes, The Question, Head Over Heels, Monday I Die, Inside Out, Oblivion, Not in Space
Take a listen to my personal favourite track, Monday I Die, below:
Monday I Die