Sean Nicholas Savage

Bermuda Waterfall

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On his spirited 2013 full-length, Other Life, Montreal-based songwriter Sean Nicholas Savage presented a set of strong dramatic pop with roots in '80s quiet storm and sophistipop like the Blue Nile and the Art of Noise, his velvety voice crooning through more avant readings of these straightforward reference points. Just a single year later, Bermuda Waterfall materialized, with Savage recapitulating some of the daydreamy glory of Other Life and subtly switching up the smoothed-out styles of that album for more diverse fare. Songs like "Empire" are still incredibly true to the late-night '80s soul vibes of previous albums, complete with cheap keyboard tones sitting high in the mix and gelling with falsetto vocals, watery bass, and slinky percussion to create an impressive throwback groove. Tracks like this are where Savage sounds most at home, with the lazy funkiness and curiously homemade fidelity of tunes like "Hangin On" and "Please Set Me Free" (the latter complete with overdubbed sound effects of gently falling rain) casting Savage as some sentimental R&B version of fellow Montrealer Mac DeMarco. As strong as these songs are, the real development on Bermuda Waterfall comes with the hints of stylistic divergence that peek through on select tracks. There's the Elton John-esque piano intro and honey-colored classic rock guitar leads on "Vampire," an almost spaghetti Western instrumental intro by way of "Boogie Nights," and the shuffling callback to corny '80s sitcom theme show music on the still remarkably catchy "The Rat." Along with the pseudo-bossa nova rhythms of "Naturally" and rolling melodic synth pop of "Heartless," the album takes gradual steps forward and shakes out to be one of Savage's more consistent collections.

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