Patrick Watson defies all those who may consider him 'background music' by engulfing listeners in a sound experience that is definitely not just for robots.
After an array of previous successful albums and winning the Polaris Music Prize in 2007 with the album Close to Paradise, Patrick Watson perhaps sensed a gap in the market this year when deciding to write Love Songs for Robots.
Although this unusual title prepares you up for warped vocals, non-stop synthesizer and (arguably) a bit of a headache, any apprehension is extinguished as soon as the album begins. The beginning track "Love Songs for Robots" immediately draws you in with an encompassing, eerie atmosphere before classic Patrick Watson (referring to the lead singer and the band) vocals creep up on you along with a subtle electronic feel, engulfing listeners from the very first note.
There is no time to recover as whining guitar then thrusts listeners into the next track "Good Morning Mr Woolf" which certainly wakes you up, before proceeding to chill you back down. This rollercoaster of varying instruments and styles continues throughout the album before ending in style on the more upbeat "Places You Will Go". Rocky drumbeat, twanging guitar and less of a whispered vocal begins the final track before the haunting, dreamlike atmosphere that began the album seeps back in and finishes the album in a similar manner to how it began.
Love Songs for Robots is perhaps the deepest Watson has gone into electronic type genres after previous experimentation in other albums such as Just Another Ordinary Day, with it adding a slight variety and welcomed new style to this album. Although definitely remaining in Patrick Watson territory, fans may be disappointed if they were hoping for the purely instrumental style that dominated many previous albums, however it must be stressed that although delving deeper into electronica, Watson is definitely still at the shallow end.
The most notable aspect of the music is the band's skill in maintaining a constant sound and theme to the album as a whole whilst still producing tracks with enough substance to stand alone. Arguably an album of 'back ground music' somehow Watson manages to stray from this, creating an album that draws you in and makes you want to stop what you are doing and sit and listen. Constantly varying instruments and styles to ensure no two songs are the same, with the use of guitar and piano, along with breathy, gentle vocals and good quality synthy goodness, the whole sound cannot be described as anything other than beautiful.
Contrary to the impression of the album title, an abundance of introspective and emotion filled lyrics feature throughout, although you will have to listen closely to make them out. Stand out tracks include "Bollywood" and "Places You Will Go" with a personal favourite being "In circles" featuring gentle piano music and layers of sound which have been constructed brilliantly, leaving you feeling like you are floating on a cloud.
Current fans of the Canadian singer-songwriter and his band will most likely greet this ten track album with the enthusiasm it deserves and those who are newbies to the Watson fan club I'm sure will be happy to add a sprinkling to their playlist. However, is the album soul-wrenching, earthquake producing, "I'll never listen to another album again" material? No, but as a relaxing musical experience Watson has done a brilliant job. I'm sure having your soul wrenched is overrated anyway.