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Ricky Eat Acid | Three Love Songs

by Tom Johnson

I want to start this review by stating that Three Love Songs, the new album from Ricky Eat Acid, is an astonishing record. I know it’s not the done thing and that I’m supposed to lead the reader on a journey of sorts before finally delivering the triumphant (or not so) verdict, but things are never best left to chance. So before we go any further I want you to know that it’s stunning. Weird, expansive, meandering, achingly pretty and completely stunning.

I also lead with this enthusiastic clarity because that’s exactly what Three Love Songs doesn’t do and, as such, may well lose a few people before it gets the chance to truly engage them. The opening few tracks of the record are muddy and parochial, difficult to approach and hard to get inside of. In fact the whole first half of the record makes for a somewhat disparate and unnerving experience which will almost certainly throw a few people off-guard upon initial listens. There are moments of beautiful ambience which occasionally raise their heads above the surface, but they’re shrouded in unsettled electronic patterns which come distorted and twisted around varying embellishments, ranging from ominous, discordant keys (‘Driving alone past roadwork at night‘) to genuinely frightening religious speech samples which rage above shards of white noise (‘In rural virginia…‘).

So for nearly twenty-minutes the record completely fails to find its feet. In fact, it doesn’t even try to find its feet. It draws you quietly in and then it spits you out. It offers glimpses of what lies inside and then it slams the door shut in your face. But, all of a sudden, something changes. Like a silhouette slowly taking shape through the fog, a crisp definition rises to the fore. It happens halfway through ‘Inside Your House…‘ as the almost-playful piano line grows from an untidy starting point and suddenly finds itself as the tracks inspired centre-piece. This gradual discovery brings a form and shape to Three Love Songs that was previously missing. It gives it a steady hand and a unshakable stare and from that point the record blossoms remarkably.

It will draw me over to it like it always does‘ drops a devilishly handsome vocal sample which offers the first glimpse in to Sam Ray’s ability to write infectiously animated, multiflurous dance music. It’s a completely unexpected shift in tone and pace given what’s come before; that it works so endearingly well is testament to both Ray’s vision and the simple strength of his craft. The track also works as a softened intro in to what comes next; a helping hand, if you like, in to the world of ‘In my dreams we’re almost touching‘ – which itself is a five-minute burst of wonderfully dynamic house music that sweeps you clean off your feet with its dazzling vocal cut and pulsing beats. It’s a huge song; awesome in scope and almost grin-inducing in its delivery and it’s place within the record.

The fogginess that was heaped upon the opening tracks returns a little at this point, but it no longer swallows everything around it, instead the dissonance actually brings an alarming level of clarity to the music which, in turn, creates some of the most heart-pounding and beautiful electronic music we’ve heard in a very long time. ‘God puts us all in the swimming pool‘ presents an absorbing and skewed looped vocal sample, set against a beautifully hazy backdrop, before the breathtaking seven-minutes of ‘Outside your house…‘ captivates with its stuttering percussion, soft beats and stirring strings.

At this point it seems that the record is to bid a sorrowful farewell as the haunting vocal cuts on ‘I can hear the heart breaking as one‘ crawl along the records prettiest piano lines. However, despite the almost desolate fragility of what precedes it, closing track ‘Starting over‘ sounds like the musical personification of somebody doing exactly that. It’s a short and jovial adieu that plays out like the closing credits which roll on just after our spirited hero has finally won his battle.

And maybe that’s because Ricky Eat Acid has won. No matter how much hardship or heartache feature in the creation of this record, what we have here is a collection of songs that don’t just stand-up strongly and proudly among its contemporaries, but one that surpasses the need for pigeon-holing and slowly creeps and crawls skyward until it finds itself head-and-shoulders above the majority of records you’ll hear all year. Three Love Songs is a genuinely astounding achievement.

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Ricky Eat Acid | God puts us all in the swimming pool (GoldFlakePaint Exclusive)

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Three Love Songs‘ is released on January 23rd.

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