Release Date: Feb 17, 2015
Record label: Innovative Leisure
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Alternative R&B
Head here to submit your own review of this album. "Did I just let you go? It felt so wrong / I must have just hesitated / Because, now you're gone." There are many different ways to start an album. More often than not, artists tend to opt for a brash, loud opening in an attempt to grab your attention. Tropics, however, takes a slightly different approach; his sultry, honey-coated vocals immediately take centre stage.
Chris Ward, aka singer/producer Tropics, never quite found his sound on Parodia Flare, his atmospheric 2011 debut. Its aesthetic—part-chillwave, part-shoegaze—felt like a wistful backdrop for Wham!-era George Michael or Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay without the standout vocals. Ward seemed content hiding his words behind thick layers of coffee-shop acid jazz and old-school R&B.
The first ‘wave of chill’ arrived on these shores from Ibiza in the late Nineties to ease our collective disillusion in the wake of Cool Britannia. A deluge of downtempo house remixes, repurposed as the soundtrack for student barbecues, Habitat adverts and thirty-something dinner parties. The second wave came from America almost a decade later, defined by faded synths and fuzzy post-millennial laptop-pop.
Sadness, sensuality, and soulfulness seem to comprise the holy trinity for sleepy British synth pop artist Tropics (Chris Ward) on his sophomore LP Rapture. Like the name he's chosen for his artistic pursuits, winter has little place in Ward's music, which steams and sweats with a lush, late-night humidity. It's not a complete departure from the busier electronica style of his 2011 debut Parodia Flare, but the 11 songs on Rapture do have a very focused and specific sound that melds slinky Sade vocal aspirations with a contemporary chillwave style.
Tropics, aka Chris Ward’s wonderfully soulful effort, ‘Rapture’ is a melancholy blend of electronic and piano driven music. Choosing his moment carefully, Chris builds from the heavily chilled baseline of each track, lifting each song up using ricocheting drums and lilting melodies to give his emotional lyrics greater effect. ‘Blame’ sets up the album as a chilled out electronic release, the melancholy tone drifting along the soft piano melody, building up to a flurry of synth and sound.
A few years ago, Tropics, A.K.A Chris Ward, was one of those bedroom auteurs loitering on the fringes of the Chillwave scene. 2011’s Parodia Fire was a product of that Ernest Greene/Chaz Bundick-style penchant for ethereal bleep-making. Now, three years on, Tropics is back: the beats are still ethereal, but with a very different vibe. Rapture is a mesh of gossamer textures, hushed vocals and gently swelling synths.