Theophilus London - Timez Are Weird These Days
Record Label: Warner Brothers Records
Release Date: July 19, 2011
With a name like Theophilus London, it's hard not to be good at whatever you set your mind to. It's elegant and dramatic to the point of easy recollection, equal parts simple and complex. But when your chosen profession is producing some of the most stylish music in the history of the music industry, that's when your success rate raises exponentially. Each and every release in London's discography is literally drenched in synth pastel magnificence, a descriptor that makes about as much sense as how catchy he still manages to be, and his wide range of influences combine to create a smooth transition for even the most nostalgic sensibilities.
His latest release, the debut full-length Timez Are Weird These Days, continues this trend in an almost unbelievable fashion. Older cuts from his recent EP release Lover's Holiday are mixed with brand new hits to form a relentless assault on the listener's mind, ricocheting from song to song with tenacious energy. The three returning tracks act as anchors in the album's vigorous pace, providing a familiar face with a bit of touch up to keep things fresh. What made each track special on Lover's Holiday is highlighted and expanded upon, from the eager romanticism of “Wine and Chocolates” to the dispirited wariness of “Why Even Try.” Even the straightforward “Girls Girls $” has had its sound amplified and remastered, providing a brilliant assortment of production styles among borderline banal lyricism.
Fortunately, Timez Are Weird These Days and its brand new tracks completely blow away the enormously high standards set by their predecessors. “Last Name London” opens with a beat that's nearly impossible not to dance to, a dilemma that's compounded with the equally catchy chorus. For new listeners, “Last Name London” is the perfect introduction to the sound London brings to the table. The opener flows wonderfully into “Love is Real,” a track that mixes a haunting chorus with a generous amount of bass and synth. Indie musician Holly Miranda, the latest in a long line of female features, provides her services to both main and backing vocals in a light back and forth with London. Dense and mysterious, “Love is Real” is an aloof argument for the title's statement, both full of emotion and somehow unconvinced with the evidence presented.
While many of the same influences find their way into each track, Timez Are Weird These Days is far from varied. “All Around the World” employs copious amounts of bongo and acoustic guitar work, combining with the usual synth loveliness to cultivate a fascinating dichotomy of unrefined spontaneity and polished electricity that's unique yet easy to digest. The typical synthesized keys are given an extra shot of steroids on “Stop It,” carrying a thick sound that would be awkward if anyone but London was behind the boards. The lyrics plead for an end to unwanted attention, a quirkiness that's a definite departure from London's status quo. “One Last Time” slows the second half of the album down considerably, carried by deep yet reserved bass through the verses and London's heavily produced vocals in the chorus. The second half diverges a bit, adding delicate music box instrumentation and reverb laden melodies into an already solid track to form a concentrated pillar for its second act.
Timez Are Weird These Days finds its climax in the very last track. “I Stand Alone” is a dazzling spectacle, a testament to love and dedication that sees London forsaking the wonders he's seen in his globe-trotting for the one that he adores. He's introduced with a soft acoustic guitar as the background, his vocals growing more strained and emotional with each passing syllable. While not the most accessible track the album has to offer, “I Stand Alone” has an acute sense of pacing that spreads beyond a mere three and a half minutes. It's revealing and mesmerizing, a introspective piece that goes beyond London's usual grandstanding to provide a poignant look at the artist's innermost affectivities.
Needless to say, Timez Are Weird These Days is a definite frontrunner for my favorite album of the year. London creates massive scenes of glitzy spaciousness, full of enough style and finesse to fill three more albums. Even in his rare despondency, London infuses every second with a keen composure that's hard to match. Timez Are Weird These Days is the perfect example of what London is capable of, snatching elements of popular music from across the decades to create a sound that's both nostalgic and refreshing.