Album review: A. Smyth unveils the imposing and beautiful album ‘Last Animals’

The Breakdown

This is a beautiful album from beginning to end, with its delicate musings and lush vibrant instrumentation.
Lover Records 8.5

‘Lost Animals’ by Irish artist A. Smyth has an intriguing mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation that creates a delicate fusion between a folk songwriting tradition and more rugged indie rock roots. The golden thread throughout, though, is an ear for the sweetest of melodies and an indelible melancholia that permeates every track.

The result is something that shimmers and sparkles with the deepest of emotions and the most celestial tunes. And most extraordinarily of all, this is Smyth’s debut album.

‘Opening track ‘Rain Boys’ is a case in point. It is a track with presence – from the picking strings and the layered harmonies at the beginning to the slowly ascending synths, strings and percussive heartbeat that emerge half way through. It is a fitting opening to the album – incorporating the variety and strength of songwriting on display throughout ‘Last Animals’.

‘Yeah You Said’ has a delicate softness that is haunting and uplifting – yet powers up with a spine of a thundering rhythm section and a bubbling synth that warps out at the end.

The sparkle jangle and layered harmonies of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ are unashadely pure pop, with sudden switches in pace and intricate picking leading to a wild solo:

There is certainly an imperial majesty to the tracks: powerful, bright and crystalline.

‘Say You Won’t Mind’ shows balladeer roots with clip clop rhythm and a hint of humour – life is like my cat, show you love then bite and scratch – say you don’t mind, say you don’t mind at all. It’s gentle, soothing with a glint in the eye and with breathtakingly gorgeous instrumentation – acoustic scratching and scraping underneath the smooth vocals and choruses.

The popping and bubbly synth intro to ‘Me And My Old Man’ married to the sparkling acoustic guitars creates a wonderful tension. Smyth’s vocal remind me of Sufjan Steven – the lightness and feeling imbued into the melody – observational, studied and poised.

Pure pop sensibilities are to the fore in ‘River’ – celestial choruses over jangling guitars and a sense of deep yearning. Another throat tightening melody and statuesque instrumentation:

‘When It Calls’ veers towards a more dance-orientated, pacy electronic vibe – insistent rhythm, a mesmerizing track that is enigmatic and posed. This is a gorgeous song – melodic and sparkling with haunting choruses and the intrusive funky scratchy guitar that suddenly slides in and out.

The album sails out with ‘Tempt’ – a triumphant farewell that is soft and reflective with Smyth’s delicate vocals drifting across a deep, crystal acoustic guitar jangle.

This is a beautiful album from beginning to end, with its delicate musings and lush vibrant instrumentation. The album is out through Smyth’s own label Lover Records an you can get it here or directly from the artist below:

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1 Comment

  1. […] year’s ‘Lost Animals’ from Dublin troubadour A. Smyth (reviewed by me here) was a gorgeous collection of delicate musings and lush vibrant instrumentation. Smyth is back with […]

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