EDEN, vertigo | Album Review
Dublin, Ireland musician EDEN gets personal, and exhibits potential on his full-length debut album, ‘vertigo.’ That said, it doesn’t arrive without flaws.
“Only 16, yeah, I think you should’ve known / I think you f*cked me up / I think, I think you f*cked me up / And I’ve got nothing to say to you.” Deep stuff, EDEN. The 22-year old alternative/electronic musician (real name Johnathon Ng) releases his first full-length project, vertigo. Vertigo is a personal album that balances acoustic and electronic backdrops, and features expressive, emotional vocals from Ng.
“start//end”, the third track from vertigo, is intriguing from the start, commencing with lovely, lush, robust strings. There’s a distinct, expressiveness about EDEN vocally, that draws the listener in. He’s authentic, emotional, and passionate. Following a dramatic verse, the pre-chorus signals a shift within the record.
“Is this burning, right? Am I living bridges? / Can we build our past, right? / Learning through future solecism.”
Unstable, it’s intriguing, unpredictability piques interest, continuing through the chorus, where the identity establishes itself.
“(I’ve missed times) It’s played out / (Been disconnected) I’ve moved on / (I stressed time) Get f*cked up / (Forgetting timing) My new draw.”
The electronic vibe and a sense of stability and groove establish themselves on the bridge and successive chorus. Finally, the second verse arrives, with the clear identity of the record established, intact with lush strings and electronic backdrop. “start//end” is the centerpiece.
“It’s been a few years since you’ve been gone / There’s been a few tears, but that was years and years ago.” “Start//end” may be the crowning achievement of vertigo, but “Crash” (track 7) gives EDEN another personal gem. “Crash” commences moodily in regards to the vibe. Sporting simple production, the focal point are the distinct, expressive vocals of EDEN, which beautiful. Opening lyrics confirm the moodiness, also adding a sense of reflectiveness. Following the acoustic intro, there’s a shift that incorporates more electronic elements and effects. It’s signaled by pitch-shifted, effects-laden vocals (“‘Cos you are not who you think you are / There’s no grain on these brown eyes”). EDEN also drops a couple of f-bombs, for good measure.
“Yeah, been chasing Kairos with those scapegoat eyes.” Following the intro, “Gold” (track 8) establishes itself as a guitar-driven, singer-songwriter-styled love song. His vocals are honest and passionate, while his lyrics are poetic. On the chorus, he keeps things simple, but ultimately memorable and tuneful. After its first iteration, electronic production cues begin to appear. On the outro, he is assertive:
“No more, call it what you want / Call it what you want but I call it growing up and I’m done.”
The brief “Wrong” (track 1) sets the moody tone of the album, accentuated by EDEN’s effects-drenched vocals. “Take Care,” its follow-up that precedes “start//end” gives the set some tempo and more commercial vibes. “Icarus” is lengthy, but features some fine production touches, bringing the heat as it percolates. The ‘feels’ of the stripped “lost//found” are among the most genuine of vertigo. “Wonder” is radiant, reflective, and thoughtful. The falsetto is on-point.
Examining the aforementioned singles, also chief amongst highlights of vertigo, it’s clear there’s plenty to love about the album. There are three key pros. (1) The production tends to begin subtly, often eventually evolving from more of an acoustic-based sound to incorporating more electronic qualities. This isn’t an ‘in-your-face’ project, which is a selling point. (2) Vocally, Ng’s expressiveness and tone helps to sell his emotions. That goes along with (3), this album feels personal, as if EDEN (Ng) is letting us into his world – feelings, flaws, etc.
“With the good comes the bad.” The good news for EDEN is there is nothing glaringly bad about vertigo, but it’s also imperfect. Two cons stand out after listener. (1) While the personal nature of the album is a selling point, it also feels a bit indulgent. This makes this 52-minute effort feel longer than that respectable duration. (2) There are a few too many ballads, which run into each other at times. Even though Ng bears his soul about a variety of things, sometimes, the message isn’t as dynamic because of the tempo and moody vibes.
Ultimately, vertigo is a well-rounded, personal album that balances acoustic and electronic backdrops, and features expressive, emotional vocals from Ng. More often than not, it’s appeal and the authenticity of its EDEN, makes it a winner. Over the course of 52 minutes, it gets too long, too slow, and bit boring, but the majority is more than enough to confirms its enjoyableness and well-roundedness.
Gems: “start//end,” “Icarus,” “crash,” “gold” & “wonder”
EDEN • vertigo • Astralwerks • Release: 1.19.18
Photo Credit: Astralwerks