The Mercury Prize-nominated debut album from Glaswegian composer/bedroom pop spell-caster Christopher Duncan, Architect is a lush and beguiling set of classical-infused dream pop that invokes names like Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, Brian Wilson, and the High Llamas. The son of two classical musicians and a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Duncan, as the album title would imply, is well versed in the architecture of composition, but his scholarly gifts are punctuated by pure pop acumen. Duncan's Glasgow is awash with urban imagery, like ambulance taillights disappearing around rain-slicked corners, but musically the12-track LP seeks greener pastures, dabbling in everything from indie pop and post-rock to English folk and Tropicália. Many songs, including "Say," "Silence and Air," and "I'll Be Gone by Winter," the latter of which is a bittersweet, old-fashioned waltz that suggests Eugene McGuinness by way of Richard Hawley, seek refuge from the big city. For Duncan, the sea is always beckoning. That notion of the ocean as interminable is best reflected in the remarkable single "For," a sumptuous and altogether mesmerizing bit of audio chicanery that sounds infinitely more complex than its single loop structure would suggest. Duncan's bucolic longings suggest a steady diet of Nick Drake as well, but where Drake would seek refuge in the easy comforts of introversion, Duncan seems willing to not only engage with the world around him, but to challenge it as well. Architect is one of those rare albums that demand to be listened to in one sitting, and it not only sets an awfully high bar for home recordings, it makes for a truly auspicious debut.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger