Gaz Coombes – Worlds Strongest Man Review

Three years on from releasing the critically acclaimed Matador; Gaz Coombes has released his ‘Frank Ocean inspired’ third album The Worlds Strongest Man on May 4th. It is a culmination of the added hints of experimentation to his ever maturing songwriting in 2015 he was in a new submersible phase. This earned himself a Mercury prize nomination amongst other accolades. His recent comments about his third solo effort only suggest more exploration for the quietly confident singer-songwriter. So if any venture into Pop music comes from Gaz, you know it’ll be a considered and versatile affair.

‘Deep Pockets’ immediately smacks with a buzzing energy and throbbing beat. Gaz’s echoed and wiry vocals skate atop the accelerating feel of the track as it drives towards the chorus to be met with a more rooted, lower vocal to meet the expansive and growing sounds around him. His eccentric melodies and introverted lyrics deliver messages of unchecked masculinity. ‘Walk the Walk’ is no different in its narrative tone and is a steadier affair compared to his last single ‘Deep Pockets’ with meandering riff and bass line with a buzzing synth energy whirring through the track. This album looks to have a more integrated sense of scale accommodated in this instance through sections and a slicker delivery which the first two singles have served as an example of. The new album looks to be another worthy addition to his catalogue.

‘Shit (I’ve done it again)’ is a hazy track of whirring synth chords set around delicate melodies made up from strings and light electronica. The track gradually grows beyond this with prominent percussion, vocal harmonies and charged guitars and whole lot of reverb on top of that. It makes for a controlled and rewarding arrangement. ‘Wounded Egos’ bites with an opening line of ‘wounded egos, right wing psychos’, but this is set through the prism of a light arrangement of light, staccato electronica. The song then strikes an optimistic tone with pacing bass lines, percussion and a resonant synth compliment as Gaz’ piercing vocals sing of ‘chairs flying in the street’ but there being ‘another way’. It becomes of joyous track derived from that scathing opening and all done with a subtlety as worthy as any dramatic shift of tone he could have opted for. Tracks such as ‘Vanishing Act’ produce a sound that pushes a feeling of being on edge as Gaz screams of the need to ‘find my happy face’ and performing a vanishing act. The title track offers a hint of bravado to mock his themed subject around a crisp, slicked arrangement.

This album has saw Gaz tackle issues of masculinity a little more abruptly than he’s directed his solo songwriting before, but he has masterfully utilised his arrangements to manipulate and radiate the messages in his tracks. Sure, it isn’t the most exciting record of the year, but it is an immersive experience that plays off each subtle change in tone that makes this album. Coupled with that overarching sense of vulnerability and you have another strong chapter in Gaz Coombes solo catalogue.

Gaz Coombes – World’s Strongest Man = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle

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