Beaty Heart's sophomore full-length album, 2016's Till the Tomb, finds the British outfit shifting away from the bubbly Afro-pop influence of 2014's Mixed Blessings and embracing a new, hypnotically sophisticated sound. Working with producer Dave Eringa (who also helmed Mixed Blessings) and mixer David Wrench (FKA Twigs, Caribou), the trio of Josh Mitchell (vocals, guitars, electronics), Charlie Rotberg (drums, electronics), and James Moruzzi (drums, vocals, electronics) deliver a handful of catchy tracks that combine shimmering synths, organic percussion, jazzy horns, and just enough electronic flourishes to lend an otherworldly quality to the proceedings. Perhaps some of the aesthetic transformation comes from the fact that singer Mitchell relocated to Stockholm. Rather than building from the jam sessions that resulted in their debut, Mitchell shared his ideas via email for Till the Tomb. The band also began exploring new influences, from soul, dub, and jazz to the passionate Brazilian fusion of Flora Purim, whose music was the inspiration for Beaty Heart's spacy, impressionistic "Flora." But rather than coming off as an intellectual art school exercise, Till the Tomb is a tactile, sensual production, made even more affecting by Mitchell's yearning vocals and deeply poetic lyrics that feel grounded in relatable, romantic emotions. As he sings on the bubbly "Soft Like Clay," "I am soft like clay/And do you wanna remake me?/Mold me in your way?" Cuts like the trip-hop-inspired "Raw Gold" and the incandescently sultry "Glazed" are immediately infectious pop soundscapes, steeped in falsetto-drenched R&B and slow-burn lyricism. Ultimately, while some fans may miss Beaty Heart's previous bent toward tropical indie rock jams, it's difficult to imagine anyone not swooning over the focused, nuanced pop craftsmanship.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar