I hate to use the word "haunting" because it's liable to make people think that Hypnophobia, the new one from Jacco Gardner, is some sort of sad, scary mood piece. It sorta is, but not really. What the album is, more than anything else, is a collection of superb tunes from this performer. Each cut here surprises and the album as a whole seems to transcend genres with ease.
From the Zombies-styled "Another You", to the Broadcast-isms of "Grey Lanes", to the folk-y ramblings of "Brightly", Hypnophobia wastes no time in astonishing a listener. Gardner has crafted the sort of ornate pop that too few are making these days. An easy comparison would be the first Cardinal record from Eric Matthews and Richard Davies but even that comparison would not be quite accurate as Gardner is more interested in textures at times than those 2 songwriters were.
"Find Yourself" struts in like the lost theme song to some Eurotrash flick from the Swingin' Sixties. Both catchy and nearly-psychedelic, the cut is an excellent crash course into what makes this Gardner cat such a fantastic artist.
"Face to Face" adds that whole Broadcast vibe to the barest hint of the sort of thing Sondre Lerche was doing on his first 2 records while "Outside Forever" channels Bowie from before he morphed into Ziggy. The epic "Before the Dawn" is something like a Stereolab cut while the title track is closer to the sort of folk that Syd Barrett would do if he were alive and paired up with Beck at the producer's helm. A marvelous blending of styles, the song, like most of what's here, is sublime and...haunting.
Hypnophobia ends, after the rather short "Make Me See", with "All Over" bringing a decidedly Jon Brion-ish vibe to the record. If other parts of this album recall The Zombies, or The Moody Blues even, this one places things in the 1970s for a moment. The warm keyboard figure and strong drum patterns prevent this song from floating away like a track from a lost soundtrack. The simple melody here is as strong as any pop song's hook.
This LP is really a revelation. Hypnophobia makes a listener an immediate fan of this artist and I'll be really surprised if anyone can spin this record and not go out and try to find anything else Jacco Gardner has touched.
Hypnophobia will be out on Monday or Tuesday depending on where you live in the world. And it's on a bunch of different labels in a few different regions so just get it wherever you can (legally).
Find details on Jacco Gardner on his official website.