John Talabot


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Appearing a leisurely few years after his initial break-out successes -- the 2009 single "Sunshine," his remix of Delorean's "Sea Sun" -- and the cresting wave of interest in neo-Balearic dance music they conveniently rode, the first full-length from Spanish producer John Talabot bears the mixed blessing of being a little bit late for its moment; trading the freshness and excitement it might have had for a warm but still welcome familiarity. The sound remains mostly the same -- brightly blurry, detuned synth disco and slow-motion deep house -- although there are definitely some changes afoot. For one thing, "sun," a key component of Talabot's original aesthetic, in a metaphoric but still very tangible (and audible) sense, is conspicuously absent from the track list (not to mention the black, tortuous cover art), and the album's contents reflect that, coming across as almost uniformly moody -- wistful, brooding, even mournful -- with minor keys predominating throughout. Arriving as a singular, solitary work rather than a representative of a coherent, larger "scene" (although there are certainly plenty of similar sounds buzzing in the air) allows Fin to fail or fly more strictly on its own merits, which are considerable: Talabot makes this stuff sound easier than it really is, which is probably the surest sign of his meticulous, sophisticated craftsmanship. In any case, the delay is only fitting: patience has always been the name of the game with Talabot -- those early singles and remixes would typically billow and sway at length before blossoming into full frothy flower, routinely stretching upwards of seven minutes -- and patience rewards the listener here too, albeit in a slightly different manner. Save for the lengthier bookending tracks -- the slow-moving, slightly sinister electro-disco of "Depak Ine," replete with jungle (not Jungle) sounds, and the lavish "So Will Be Now...," an expansive, edit-like elaboration on an anonymous rendition of "Just My Imagination" (the title is a willful slippage from "soon we'll be married") -- everything is in the three-to five-minute range, and considerably less epic than we've come to expect. And while there's a decent amount of variety within Talabot's well-established sonic wheelhouse, there are few standouts to speak of (and even fewer of those moments of glorious, exultant release with which he made his name), so the album functions most successfully as a 50-minute whole. But if Fin is never less than pleasant, it's rarely much more than that. It's hard to say what's wrong with anything here, and probably nothing is: the woozily soulful "Destiny" (co-produced with Madrid's Pional, as is the aforementioned "So Will Be Now") is a solid synth pop earworm; "Journeys" (featuring Delorean's Ekhi Lopetegi) is an enjoyable return to the buoyant simplicity of Talabot's past; the album as a whole abounds with effective, intriguing atmospherics. It's just that, for all its potential, Fin is merely fine.

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