Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
The first thing which grabs your attention as There’s No Leaving Now begins are the (shock!) extra instruments. Behind Kristen Matsson’s expertly fingerpicked melodies and his raspy, extroverted voice are subtle layers of synth, extra guitars, even faint percussion.
So is this the album in which Matsson expands, readies himself for the big commercial push? Not as such; interestingly, the extra textures on Matsson’s third LP serve to make it his calmest, most lucid adventure yet. Whereas The Wild Hunt opened with its bustling title track, Matsson’s voice bursting and cracking atop the mix as he asserts “I plan to be forgotten when I’m gone”; There’s no Leaving Now eases into things with the gentle “To Just Grow Away”. His voice cooler, his demon-fingerpicking replaced by gentle strumming; pianos, subtle drums. It’s as if the hunt is over, and Matsson is rejoicing in a humble victory.
“It’s as if the hunt is over, and Matsson is rejoicing in a humble victory.”
The album’s title track is a much more confident and collected “Kids on the Run”; “Wind and Walls” carries the same freewheelin’ troubadour sass as “King of Spain”, albeit reigned in.
Despite the more tepid atmosphere, Matsson’s gift for melodic hooks are still abound. Try and get through “1904” without finding yourself singing “since they shook the Earth in 1904”; whoever they are.
It’s something which has always been an interesting part of Matsson’s songwriting, his abstract, almost nonsensical imagery. Earlier, though; it seemed linear storytelling would have betrayed the urgent emotion bursting out the speakers. Here, as things cool down, lyrics aren’t as memorable. Lines like “you always treat me like a stranger, mountain”, though not a departure from earlier imagery; sounds almost farcical.
It’s an easy album to get through, although as Matsson’s voice cools and his sense of urgency is replaced by a measured confidence, it’s a difficult album to feel excited by. Not a bad album by any means, but Vulture wishes it were wilder.