Release Date: May 12, 2015
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Patrick Watson’s albums have followed a pattern of subtle, beautiful song craft that combines his ethereal falsetto with lush soundscapes drawing on influences ranging from classical to electronic. The fifth album from Watson (the name signifying both the man and his band), Love Songs For Robots does the same, but also stretches the pattern and colores beyond the expected edges. Indulging some more experimental urges, Watson surpasses his prior efforts, the ornate but somewhat languid albums like the Polaris Prize-winning Close to Paradise and Wooden Arms.
Patrick Watson has created a vast sonic panorama on Love Songs For Robots, the fifth studio album released by the band that shares its founder's namesake. And while the Montreal-based frontman's skills are more than prominent throughout the LP — the dramatic, borderline thespian annunciation of his lyrics; the sustained high notes; the often opaque lyricism — this is by no means a solo affair. Percussionist Robbie Kuster in particular gives one show-stealing turn after another throughout these ten tracks, as he guides the band into numerous mid-song about faces in tone and tempo.Second track "Good Morning Mr.
Patrick Watson and co. have been honing their sound since the early 2000s now, having already mastered the use of spoons and bicycles in the studio long ago, and won Canada’s prestigious Polaris prize in 2007. But where do you go from there? Where can you go from there? On their new full length ‘Love Songs for Robots’, it’s a dash of meticulous refinement and peaceful revolution.
After an array of previous successful albums and winning the Polaris Music Prize in 2007 with the album Close to Paradise, Patrick Watson perhaps sensed a gap in the market this year when deciding to write Love Songs for Robots. Although this unusual title prepares you up for warped vocals, non-stop synthesizer and (arguably) a bit of a headache, any apprehension is extinguished as soon as the album begins. The beginning track “Love Songs for Robots” immediately draws you in with an encompassing, eerie atmosphere before classic Patrick Watson (referring to the lead singer and the band) vocals creep up on you along with a subtle electronic feel, engulfing listeners from the very first note.
When Patrick Watson beat Arcade Fire to the Polaris Prize, Canada’s take on the Mercury, it was a triumph of quiet optimism over bombastic gloom. Whilst Win Butler’s crew had opted to follow Funeral’s magic-hour romanticism with church organs and doomsaying, Watson’s Close To Paradise was a masterwork of hazy imagination, of daydreams wrought in sound, a child’s picturebook of colour and possibility. Both bands traded in escapism, of course, but Arcade Fire - on the cusp of worldwide acclaim - had grown darker, their gaze turning from the hue of sunset to the long shadows cast behind, and from there to stadiums and then to mirrorballs, their sound polished and glistening if a little less loveable for it.
Unlike Patrick Watson's previous release, the home-recorded Adventures in Your Own Backyard, Love Songs for Robots was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and Studio Pierre Marchand in Montreal. While the result may not be quite as sparse or intimate, despite a much shorter list of instruments and collaborators, it's at least as intense and melancholic. Also unlike Adventures, synths are featured prominently on the record.
It’s been nearly a decade since Patrick Watson, the Canadian quartet led by the man of the same name, started beguiling anyone who crossed their path. To date, they have released four well-received albums, with their 2012 record Adventures In Your Own Backyard being their most confident and assured release to date. Yet they remain something of a hidden treasure, with mainstream success having continually eluded them.
After four albums of mostly stripped-down falsetto, Patrick Watson says he wanted his fifth to be a “science fiction R&B meets Vangelis erotica with a zest of folk kind of record”. Thus, the Montrealer’s gentle sound has been decorated with the sort of sonic baubles you’d associate with Coldplay’s production team: banks of echo and layers of instrumentation. Such a self-consciously epic approach works for the quicksilver funk of Places You Will Go, but the fragile Good Morning Mr Wolf rather drowns in sonic soup.
Patrick Watson’s new album has one of the softest openings you will hear this year. Nearly 10 seconds of silence — or what sounds like it, anyway — give way to spectral electronic ambience layered with a delicate wash of piano, and then Watson’s warm, malleable voice. The title track eases you in to an otherworldly place, where melodies float like smoke rings and Watson glides over his notes like a phantom presence.
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Patrick Watson, as well known for winning the Polaris Prize as for lending his songs to Grey's Anatomy and The Walking Dead, is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who gleefully subverts the indie rock genre. On his fifth album, he and his long-time band mix piano balladry and warm sci-fi synth lines (an ironic pairing that only Watson and Co. could pull off so beautifully) with hypnotic drumming and moaning slide guitar.
Patrick Watson loves a springtime release so much, his last three records have all come out in April or May. Perhaps it’s because his music can blossom beautifully or cause a downpour of emotion with such short intervals between. But seasonal puns aside, his last few albums - each neatly spaced three years apart - for the most part maintain what his non-spring phase started back in 2003: whimsical, luscious pop that can soundtrack heartbreak as effortlessly as a child’s story, or an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, or a Guinness advert.