When actively seeking new artists and albums on a daily basis — or at least trying to — you find there’s a lot to like out there, good work that’s worth sharing for one reason or another (I collect what new music I come across regardless of genre in this playlist here). But, on more rare occasions, you come across a work that speaks perfectly to who you are or what you’re into at that particular moment in time, something that conveys relatable feeling yet is endlessly enjoyable. For me, back in April when it was released and still now, that’s the modern soul album, Ology; the debut album from singer Christopher Gallant.
Considering the size and scope of other great albums released this year that completely consumed my attention, there’s something special about a good album coming out of nowhere with much less behind it; and for it to still be as moving and engaging, is part of what makes Ology especially worth a spin and worth writing about, even in spite of my lateness. In other words, the rise of new artists like Gallant reaffirms my waining faith that not every good thing capable of enduring or worth sharing in music or our popular culture depends on or requires some tremendous to-do. How all parties involved in the music game can get rich without a bunch of nonsense or screwing over the listener is a different story for another day.
Ology gets started with “Talking To Myself”, a track fairly representative of what to expect from Gallant. As the title implies, the track and the singer himself are an introspective sort, which he describes in an interview with Pigeons and Planes. Through this honest introspection Gallant is able to distill and transfer the loneliness he feels into song, not unprecedented or impossible but he does it well. “Weight in Gold” is the lead single, expressing anxiety at the prospect of bearing the weight of the universe alone, and was introduced to the world via Apple Music in June of last year. However, some timely performances at SXSW and Coachella this year really boosted the young singer’s popularity. Last month he performed the track on The Tonight Show. More recently, just last week, Gallant released a music video for “Miazaki“. It’s a favorite, alongside “Bourbon” and “Percogesic”, but there are many highlights.
On Ology, Gallant goes deep with the listener, yet there are enough subtle variations on sound and theme here and there to make it worth exploring in full. His sound is engineered in a way that covers some of the same territory as The Weekend, only R&B tinged with rock as opposed to dance-pop. Gallant is often hollow and emotive, surrounded by echoes, backed with the occasional knick-knack and sonic flourish, but somehow he comes off as less superficial. This is especially true of his more raw but obviously promising 2014 Zebra EP, but in the here and now Ology has the polish and consistency to establish Gallant as an artist who can ride a similar electronic R&B wave to stardom.