Nicholas Krgovich

On Sunset

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You may not have noticed it, but Nicholas Krgovich has quietly carved out a career as a brilliant singer/songwriter. In his early chamber pop group P:ano, his '90s R&B-inspired band No Kids, or the Brill Building-esque Gigi project, he's made a long string of excellent records that shows off his sensitive lyrical craft, his knack for composing the kind of songs great writers from Brian Wilson to Paddy McAloon would happily claim as their own, and his ability to blend genres and feelings into something entirely his own, no matter what the name on the sleeve says. His first solo album, On Sunset, is both of a piece with his previous work and something boldly new. Adding together elements of quiet storm balladry, New Jack Swing slickness, late-night soft rock smoothness, and Bacharach-ian melodic twists, Krgovich concocts an album that sounds touched by every decade since the '70s and feels perfectly at home in 2014. The closest comparison is Prefab Sprout, if they were more fluent in R&B and worshiped Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do for Love," but really anyone following Krgovich's career know he's been doing this long enough that now the sound is his. The songs weave tales of life in Los Angeles into a melancholy tapestry of nocturnal near-misses, mornings spent alone, and a life spent in the dark made more difficult thanks to the proximity of the bright lights. Bursting with lush female backing vocals, horns, strings, and various keyboards, they are the lushest arrangements Krgovich has laid down and they're a perfect fit for his swooping, swooning vocals as he croons through the ballads like the aching "City of Lights," bops nimbly around the beat on groovers ("You're Through," "Cosmic Vision"), or sets free his inner Paddy on the album's most immediate song "Along the PCH on Oscar Night." The backing vocals are wonderful throughout, too, surrounding Krgovich with rich harmonies that bolster him in moments of need, filling him with warmth when he's alone, and generally giving the album a wide-screen beauty. On Sunset is definitely a throwback kind of record, a '70s-style concept album with a smooth '80s heart the likes of which really only makes sense in the 2010s. In that regard, it's a total success and represents the true flowering of Krgovich's talents as a writer, producer, and performer. Though he's working pretty far under the radar, there are few others doing work as adventurous and rewarding as this.

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