Love Cry, the lead single off Four Tets new album, has an auspicious beginning: the crackle of a vinyl album matched with a gentle machinated hum. Dual harmonic tones reverberate and fade. After a bit of settling in, the sounds come together in syncopation. Then, a minute and change in: uhnnnn yeah! Thats rhythm. Thats a pulse, musically, technically, metaphysically. And then the tune grooves for another eight awesome minutes.
The rest of the album? Not quite as thrilling, but close. Four Tet, also known by his birth name, Kieran Hebden, is traveling down familiar paths on his fifth full-length effort, but this time he’s brought along different snacks. He sounds comfortable on this albummaybe not quite stretching himself, but at least hes not wasting our time.
There Is Love in You begins with Angel Echoes, a tune that would fit nicely on his 2003 classic Rounds, with its post-rocky tempo, Talk Talk-esque drums, and choppy twisting of a generic female pop vocal (the latter reminds this reviewer of the work of another influential electronic composer, The Field). It presents a nice bridge from Hebdens previous works and this new one. It also seamlessly leads into the aforementioned Love Cry, which is simply a triumph.
Following the albums high point is its low point. To be fair, Circling isnt exactly bad, but after a blast of kinetic energy like Love Cry, a jarring, abrupt cool down of minimalisms repetitive rhythms sieved through an electronic filter is just not what the doctor ordered. Its like drinking ten Red Bulls expecting a Slayer show but getting a lecture on thermodynamics instead.
From there the album progresses smoothly with each song exploring a different trail but not straying far. Pablos Heart is an inconsequential 12-second pit stop en route to the Nintendo dubstep groove of Sing, a Zomby-esque tune colored with one of post-rocks favorite instruments, the vibraphone. “Sing” bounces along for about seven minutes, and is followed by This Unfolds, which sounds like Earth playing dub for a while, until the electronics that have been gradually fading in become the focal point. Again, its all very much in the post-rock vein, hardly a bad thing.
Reversing is up next, following the same formula as Circling, although coming out with better results. It sounds similar to Brian Enos earliest ambient experiments and has a shaker pulse right out frontalways a good thing in my book. Plastic People, the subsequent track, shares the same attributes as the song preceding it but is vivid where Reversing is languid.
There Is Love in You culminates in She Just Likes To Fight, a kind of slight but appropriate closer. Clean guitar arpeggios mingle with clickety-clacks and a vague feminine vocal, all following the basic Four Tet playbook. “She Just Likes To Fight” is pretty, shuffles along steadily, and is a fine way to end this fine album. It’s not the thrill that “Love Cry” is, but Hebden has already established that he’s not making that point.