R U IN, the latest album from the acclaimed Heartour, comes to us as polished as any indie synth-rock record should. There are varnished beats in “As Far As We Go,” acrylic bass textures to behold in “The Persuadable One” and light shades of psychedelic decadence in “Bubbling.” Jason Young’s voice sparkles with an anti-artificial glow in “Baby Spiders,” star single “Brain” and the minimalist-inspired “Dear Future.” Cutting in “Eye on the Ball,” seductive in additional singles “Refill the Fountain” and “Dreams to Come,” there’s scarcely a moment where the synthetic elements in this record aren’t as organic in tone as any of the poetic verses are. Colorful, brooding and constantly efficient, R U IN is a tough record for fans of alternative grooves to beat this May, and in terms of creative brilliance, it could be one of the best collective works Young has compiled since taking up the Heartour name in the early 2000’s. It’s far from the only LP in his discography you should listen to, but for new releases out this season, it’s about as good as it gets.
The bass presence isn’t as deep as I would have liked it to be in “Let the Robots Drive” and “Bubbling,” but I think it was necessary for Young to keep it somewhat contained in an effort to preserve the defined drum patterns as well as he did here. Percussive detail was clearly of paramount importance to him when constructing R U IN, and though I’d stop short of suggesting that it’s the most communicative instrumental element in songs like “Eye on the Ball” and “Dear Future,” it’s an irreplaceable facet of the narrative just the same.
The vocal contributes to the rhythm as much as any of the drumbeats do in “Dreams to Come” and “Baby Spiders,” and while the mix flirts with industrial physicality in both of these tracks, neither sound overwhelmingly mechanical or gritty by design. I’d love to hear Heartour experiment with this side of R U IN’s sound more in the future, as it definitely showcases a DIY look that Young wears particularly well when afforded the opportunity.
If you’ve never heard the music of Heartour before, R U IN is a great introduction to the vivid songcraft Jason Young has to offer fans in this highly acclaimed solo project. All ten of the songs here are boldly composed with an attention to detail that you just can’t find every day when browsing popular FM playlists. Whether you’re a seasoned fan of synth-rock or are just now discovering the complexities of its best tunes through the tracklist of this new LP, it’s a tough record to put down once you’ve given it that quintessential virgin spin (which isn’t usually the case among output from artists as deep into their careers as Young is). I’ll be looking forward to hearing what sounds he comes up with in the future, but for the time being, this is some of his best stuff to date without question.