Hands up if you’re getting just a teeny bit sick of chillwave now? Yeah, me too. David Alexander of Malmö, Sweden definitely isn’t though. He happily classifies his music, which he produces under the moniker of Summer Heart, as chillwave, glo-fi, dreampop, and – well, pretty much any other genre that has been in vogue over the past few months. Christ alive, he even takes his name from a Blackbird Blackbird song (well, probably – I might be jumping to conclusions a bit here).
But, despite these (perfectly valid) reasons to give it a miss, it would be a shame to just write off his debut album, the seven-track Never Let Me Go, because of your exasperation with a stagnant and over-populated scene. Hazy, atmospheric and drenched in reverb (as you might expect), it’s tinged with wistful yearning. No more so than on the opening track ‘Broken Hearts’, during which Alexander sings “I wanted you to give your love to me / It’s time to go back home with broken hearts.” ‘Time For A Dreamer’ continues the steady tempo and the downbeat ambience of the first track, but sees some more interesting melodies and synth lines coming to the fore.
Alexander is at his best, however, when he lets a little bit of optimism shine through – as he does on ‘Please Stay’, the first single to be taken from Never Let Me Go. With Alexander’s falsetto vocals and the ‘Sleepyhead’-esque chord progressions forming a vague resemblance to a more subdued Passion Pit, ‘Please Stay’ is effervescent, infectious, and definitely the album’s strongest track. Meanwhile, ‘Who Said That Time Was All We Had’, and ‘The North’ feature additional breathy vocals from Alexander’s girlfriend, Amanda Liedman, (to whom he sends ‘<3’ on his website, you’ll be touched to hear), giving the tracks a slightly different dynamic and, most importantly, a more human touch. And despite the sluggish verses of ‘Simple Minds’, which makes use of one of Logic’s factory synth plugins (it’s called ‘Fast Beat’, bedroom producers and Summer Heart-wannabes), the chorus is one of the album’s highlights, with blissful, distant pan-pipes and an unexpectedly catchy vocal line.
Ok, so it’s not the most original record around at the moment, but Never Let Me Go is by no means without its merits. Whereas some artists will blindly cling on to the first bandwagon they can get their plagiaristic little mitts on, this album actually feels genuine and heartfelt. You could probably accuse David Alexander of being a little narrow-minded in his influences, but, if we leave all of our cruel, cold cynicism behind, it’s obvious that he’s just making the music that he loves – and what’s wrong with that? Had this album been released this time last year, with a couple of additional tracks in the same vein as ‘Please Stay’, it might have caused a bit of a stir. However, as it stands, you can’t help but feel that Never Let Me Go will achieve little more than to fade into the shadows of previous, more pioneering chillwave records – a slightly unfortunate outcome for an album that probably deserves a little more credit than that.