reviewed by Michael Thomas
There’s something absolutely perfect and representative about the album cover for Orlando Gloom’s (Dave Shaw’s) first full-length album. As noted about Orlando Gloom previously, there’s a wonderfully jarring disconnect between the sound of the music he makes and the lyrics he writes. The pink is his music: often buoyant, the kind of music you could dance to, 80s synths. The grey is his lyrics: tremendously sad, often trying to find happiness and failing to do so.
As if an album title involving a person’s name and the word “void” isn’t enough a hint, virtually everything on this album is tinged with sadness (I mean, even one of the Bandcamp tags is “sadness”) but it’s not a sadness that wants for comfort. It’s numb and it’s hopeless, sometimes trying to find happiness but often not even taking that chance.
The descent into despair (set to an often groovy soundtrack) begins with a wonderful fakeout in the opening song “Hopeful.” It’s got a sunny mix of synths and percussion and Shaw’s deep vocals soar. But he’s not hopeful—he’s hopeful for the end and that the next thing might be better. From that point onward, don’t be fooled by anything happy-sounding. Not that that’s a bad thing.
For example, “You Are Real” sounds like it should be life-affirming, doesn’t it? The synths twinkle and it even sounds like it’s suggesting you take a chance and do something big. But the last line is devastating: “I don’t want it if it means I have to change at all.” Similarly in “I Know My Rights,” Shaw is trying to convince someone to do something fun and reckless before he gives up and says “I don’t feel anything, I don’t care anymore.”
In “Nothing For You” Shaw has found his way to someone and is sure that nothing will hurt him again. He’s trying to be confident, but it won’t last. In “Always the Same,” Shaw is “bored of being wrong” and wonders “If nothing matters anymore, can I just feel better?”
There’s room for some clear-eyed self-reflection, too. With funereal keys backing him, “These Things Take Time” has Shaw singing that not everything is going to happen for him right away. “It takes time to be a friend” and “It takes time to ‘get god'” are just two of his observations.
Shaw’s trip into the void is not a pleasant one for him, but it’s a wonderfully cohesive album and worth delving into many more times.
Top Tracks: “Hopeful”; “I Know My Rights”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)