First Listen: Matthew Dear "Beams"

Matthew Dear isn’t as weird as he used to be, unfortunately. His new LP “Beams” is out on his own label Ghostly International next week, and it is much more coherent and accessible than his 2010 “Black City”. And it is rather dancey, for the most part relying on funky bass house rhythms that get you to move your leg or nod your head. But accessibility is a tricky thing. Dear had to make a trade for it, and he traded in much of what made his previous records special: the surprises and the personal touch. Sure, he still has his dark voice going for him, some great production and those bass lines are pretty solid. But I could not help but feel like I heard most of the songs on “Beams” before, made by someone else, and not neccessarily in a worse fashion. Apart from the great single “Her Fantasy” and the last third, the record was kind of overplayed on the second spin.

The album gets much, much better when the synths and piano samples set in and the tone mellows down in that last third of the record though. “Ahead of Myself” and the closer “Temptation” convinced me to review this release at all, their warm vibe and careful groove saving it for me. Don’t get me wrong, Matthew Dear is a very talented and interesting musician who made a quite pleasant record here. But given his back catalogue, I will rather go back and listen to his old stuff again than keeping “Beams” on any rotation.


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