Photo: Pola Sobun / Courtesy of Sub Pop

Perfect Son Blows Warmly Reflective Electronic Breezes on Debut LP ‘Cast’

Cast is a deeply moving and harmonious introduction to electropop mastermind Tobiasz Biliński's latest persona, Perfect Son.

Perfect Son
Sub Pop
15 February 2019

Polish singer and producer Tobiasz Biliński previously found success as morose electropop solo artist Coldair. However, the release of his second LP under that name, 2016’s The Provider, prompted him to reevaluate his artistic purpose and outlook, leading to a new identity: the relatively luscious and luminous Perfect Son. While undoubtedly distinguishing as its own project, Biliński’s full-length debut as Perfect Son, Cast, also feels like the brighter sibling to Coldair’s darker palette. As such, it fits very well within his characteristic catalog while channeling the heavenly ethereality of countrymen like Lunatic Soul, as well as Icelandic masters like Árstíðir and Sigur Rós too.

Charting feelings of abandonment and existentialism, opener “Reel Me” perfectly (pun intended) establishes the specialties and rewards of Cast. An electronic pulse, hip programmed percussion, and grungy guitar lines guide Biliński’s angelically crestfallen harmonies regarding losing and finding his humanity. It’s intense yet serene, with subtle but purposeful modulations in the arrangement that keep it cryptic and enthralling. Luckily, the subsequent “Lust” maintains that fervor via a more tribal, multifaceted, and dynamic trajectory that once again pits the fluctuating anarchy of its arrangement against the consistent tranquility of its vocals. The result is masterfully accomplished.

By way of contrast, (and as its title implies), “It’s for Life” is punchier, sleeker, and more celebratory, with Biliński densely singing, “Quit your drifting / And fill your lungs / Feel love and feel lust” (a nice callback to the previous tune) over a commanding techno beat, unsettled synth wallops, acoustic guitar strums, and animalistic syncopation. It’s like an introspective and melodic club track. Afterward, “Old Desires” proves haunting and controlled due to his layered laments melting around faint strings and the deliberate flourishes of other timbres around centered thumps. It’s among the feistiest pieces on Cast, as are the reverberating “Promises” and the hyperactive “My Body Wants”, both of which remain compelling despite nearly bordering on dissonant tedium.

Elsewhere, though, Cast remains mightily poignant and peaceful. For instance, “High Hopes” is, at its core, a succulently atmospheric and emotional piano ballad with echoed percussion and muted bass lines (among other coatings). Biliński’s voice truly shines as his base range is matched by a falsetto complement to make admissions like “We found our cover / Eyes closed / The touch of a lover / High hopes” resonate as much as possible. Likewise, closer “Almost Mine” is even sparser and more beatific and cleansing, as it entails little more than dim piano chords, drumming, and miscellaneous electronic effects beneath his cathartic croons. Thus, it’s restrained and rapturous at the same time, leaving you fulfilled and contemplative in equal measure.

Cast is a powerful introduction to Biliński’s latest persona. It’s not as drastic a reinvention as you might expect considering the new identity—it could’ve been released as the next Coldair LP, especially since The Provider foreshadowed it with its sixth entry, “Perfect Son”—but it does enough to warrant the distinction nonetheless. In any case, Cast is another deeply moving and harmonious outing for its creator, and fans of the style are almost guaranteed to love getting lost within it.

RATING 8 / 10
Call for essays, reviews, interviews, and list features for publication consideration with PopMatters.
Call for essays, reviews, interviews, and list features.