efore getting into this review, I just wanted to make a quick note. Despite the fact that my name and face might be planted at the bottom of this page, this isn't my own work. Since I'm technically inept and can't make a profile for him, I just wanted to credit Ringo for this gem of a review. He's kindly donated it to us, and hopefully, you'll be seeing more of him in the future. Hopefully by then I won't have to worry about adding this shit at the start, and he'll have his own author profile, but until then, yeah you're stuck with me. Enjoy!
Golden Features marks his long prophesised return with a brooding LP that strikes the perfect balance between positive artist evolution and staying true to ones style. In doing so he proves that on rare occasions overdue albums are completely worth the frustrating wait.
It’s been almost two years to the day since Golden Features (Tom Stell) hung up his fabled mask to begin the process of writing Sect, which after two EP’s and 2016’s double single release, was to be his first foray into producing a full-length album.
The prolonged period of introspection has resulted in an album that largely casts aside the out-dated and poorly aged pop themes of his past releases to favour an altogether darker sound, evidently borrowed from the likes of Sebastian and other standard bearers of early 2000’s French house.
From the beginning it seems clear that the biggest influence present in this album comes from the duo Justice. A clear comparison can be drawn between Stell’s song ‘Runner’ and the French duo’s ‘Genesis’, highlighting the role they played in Stell’s creative process.
There is a real feeling that Stell is more at home with this style of music than his past releases. Heavy background procession is only heightened by the presence of dark cutting synths that slice through almost every song. In an age of over production there is a reassurance when hearing the simple drops on this album, ones which rely more on beat-making than a cacophony of competing elements that often seem intent on drowning one another out. This is easy listening and uncrowded music that works in every setting on all speakers.
As a body of work, SECT is exceptionally well rounded in a“something for everyone kind of way.” 'Medicate' and 'Renewal' have all the markings of the big heavy hitters that will anchor Stell’s new live show and provide enough oomph to keep the average punters ears very much near a state of permanent tinnitus.
Those more partial to a 42 minute sit-down with a quality pair of headphones needn’t stress either, this albums for the most part makes for sublime listening in a solo setting. 'Pyre' provides the perfect mood setter (or dampener) and '1991' acts as its uplifting foil, provided your definition of an uplifting foil is an immeasurably menacing closing track.
If this album has one glaring fault it’s the lack of a true standout, there is no 'Tell Me' here and in many way I feel there doesn’t need to be at all. Deep down however part of me still yearns for that big title track. The albums answer to this with title single 'Falling Out' contrasts so markedly from the rest of the album that it becomes akin to a sore thumb, rudely interrupting what is otherwise a well-compiled LP with sounds that fail to cooperate with everything else.
As someone who would list my biggest music influences as The Avalanches, The Presets and Flume, I can safely say that I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to waiting for albums these days. Some have delighted whilst others have left me wishing that the artist had never changed. With SECT it is profoundly the former. While the pop and vocal features are largely gone the chilling vocal samples menacing undercuts remain, this is where Stell evidently thrives. In retaining his original identity this album feels as complete a record as anything I have heard this year, and if it takes him two years to do the exact same thing you wont hear me complaining one bit.
If I had to give it a score, overall, I'd settle with a solid 7.8/10.