Album Review: Volcanic Sunlight

Some reviews have called Saul William’s latest effort, Volcanic Sunlight, a misstep. I’d call it more of a sidestep and would argue that it’s his bravest, if not best, release to date. The Trent Reznor-produced The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust was my favorite album of 2007. With hints that the record incorporated mostly leftover compositions from Reznor’s previous works, one might have expected a disconnect between the music and Saul’s vocals. There was none, and the Trent/Saul collaboration was lightning in a bottle. For Volcanic Sunlight, Saul Williams uprooted himself, made Paris his new home, and got rid of some past demons. Williams has said in interviews that he’s freed himself of a lot of his past rage: “I think I’ve exorcised a lot of my anger through my music in the past, whereas this time around this really just feels perfect.” [via RockFeedback]

Williams has said the album is more of a focus on the music than his vocals. I’m not sure we’re listening to the same record. This might be true on lighter, poppier tracks like “Dance” and “Girls Have More Fun,” but the slam poet still brings heavy lyrics, via both singing and spoken word. Without the production and programming previously provided by Reznor, Williams seems to be open to exploring pop and dance music. I suppose this is what is throwing off some other reviews. Maybe Saul has figured out something we have yet to and is celebrating his new-found revelations. Standout tracks “Triumph” and “Fallup,” as well as the first single “Dance,” sound celebratory in nature. “Triumph” breaks new ground for Williams. The chorus features a pure musical liturgy that embodies Saul’s increasing sense of hope. “Fall Up” is one of the calmest tracks Saul has written and encompasses a slow-tempo R&B composition. “Patience” and “Give It Up” resemble the intensity of much of Williams’ past discography and make Volcanic Sunlight Saul’s most diverse, yet cohesive, work yet. You can check out the videos for “Explain My Heart” and “Dance” below:

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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