RÜFÜS DU SOL leave listeners wanting for nothing on third studio album, ‘SOLACE’ [Album Review]
There’s always been an arresting artistry inherent in RÜFÜS DU SOL‘s sound. Longtime RÜFÜS listeners will recall the alternative dance group’s debut album–2013’s Atlas–as a tightly constructed sonic package of multi-dimensional instrumental work, trance-inducing melodies, and perhaps the most distinctive element of Atlas, the velvety texture of lead singer Tyrone Lindqvist’s vocals. RÜFÜS DU SOL’s experimentation with indie-electronic technics on the album resulted in standout soundscapes that were distinctive on account of their depth. Atlas constituent, “Imaginary Air,” arises as one such example. RÜFÜS DU SOL’s sophomore production, Bloom, only further cemented the group’s prowess. Distinctly more danceable than Atlas, but still equally refined in its sound, 2016’s Bloom signaled RÜFÜS’s step in a comparatively more spirited sonic direction, as evidenced by buoyant track listings like “Say a Prayer for Me,” “Like an Animal,” and “You Were Right.”
Bloom would be the album to put RÜFÜS DU SOL ‘on the map,’ so to speak. The international audience that RÜFÜS captivated with Bloom in particular has waited patiently, and no doubt, attentively, for ensuing new RÜFÜS music, and on October 18, RÜFÜS DU SOL closed a near two-year release gap with their third studio project, SOLACE. As with each of their preceding longform productions, RÜFÜS DU SOL reinvent the house wheel on SOLACE, to make material unique in sound from other releases within the genre. The nine-track album is noticeably different in tone from Bloom. SOLACE is a pensive and lyrically vulnerable contemplation about a love that at times seems requited, and at other junctures, strained, to say the least. “Said it in the basement, we wrote it in the concrete, but saying that you want me is never enough,” Lindqvist sings on “All I’ve Got.” SOLACE’s lead single, “No Place,” shifts emotive gears, as Lindqvist resolutely verbalizes his sentiment that there’s “no place [he’d] rather be” than beside the lover in question. The weight of romantic uncertainty later resumes the lyrical centerstage on “Underwater,” where Lindqvist professes to be metaphorically “stuck underwater,” calling “help me out before I die, save me now before I give up” as the song slowly fades out, the insistent beeping of what appears to be a cardiac monitor guiding the track to its suggestive finale. SOLACE scales the continuum of romantic feeling, and as with any love, the album too has its topical highs and lows.
SOLACE’s lyrical gravity complements the album’s overall dark melodic stylization, as RÜFÜS develops a deeper brand of house music across the album’s nine-tracks. A deviation from Atlas and Bloom that will be immediately perceptible to listeners well acquainted with RÜFÜS’s catalogue, RÜFÜS ditch the irresistible danceability that they finessed on Bloom, and gravitate instead towards track listings that brood, but do so with a paradoxical, atmospheric airiness. RÜFÜS ground several of the album’s cuts–see “All I’ve Got” and “Eyes,” for instance–with deep bass lines, and similarly low intoned synth jabs. Euphoric vocal harmonies provide a gossamer kind of chord contrast to lift some selections like “Underwater” and “No Place.”
The “Innerbloom” of SOLACE certainly seems to be album closer, “Another Life.” The near seven-minute song viscously unfolds in much the same fashion as Bloom favorite, “Innerbloom.” Just as on “Innerbloom,” it is ultimately “Another Life’s” slow pace that heightens the song’s emotionality. “So I guess this is time to say goodbye,” Lindqvist muses, the melancholy in his voice almost tactile. “I guess I’ll see you in another life.” And just like that, “Another Life,” the love that serves as the lyrical subject of the album, and SOLACE simultaneously run out of seconds with an ache that is strangely satiating, and strangely satisfying, in a manner that only RÜFÜS DU SOL could effect.