Ireland's Talos Exhibits Sensitive Strength on Sophomore Record 'Far Out Dust'
Talos has created a unique emotional cocktail of wonder and melancholy with Far Out Dust, despite a few shortcomings.
Far Out Dust
8 February 2019
In Greek myth, the giant automaton Talos was created for the vigilant purpose of defending the island country of Crete. It's a fitting moniker for singer-songwriter-producer Eoin French, a native of Cork, Ireland who possesses a deep appreciation for his island home and for the wondrous natural world which surrounds him. Taking cues from the likes of Jónsi, Jon Hopkins, and James Blake, the cold atmospheres of French's 2017 debut Wild Alee felt as though they were recorded in the coldest of ice caverns -- an isolated setting from which he expressed loneliness with falsettoed whispers.
Following a couple years of touring with the likes of Peter Bjorn & John and AURORA, Talos has returned with sophomore effort Far Out Dust, an expansive record which seeks to encapsulate the gargantuan strength of French's namesake. To do so, French told Riff Magazine he looked to Bruce Springsteen's "visceral masculinity" to inform a more "boisterous and anthemic" attitude. Now, don't be fooled. One does not simply trade in a whispery Jónsian approach for the raw grittiness of Springsteen. However, the focus on stronger vocal performances is evident in tracks like "On and On" and "Let Go" where French's sensitive strength reminds of the 1975's Matt Healy.
Far Out Dust isn't a complete overhaul of Talos's previous sound, however. Much of the same electronic and post-rock influences heard on Wild Alee prevail throughout the sophomore effort. Yet, the soundscapes are grander and more expansive, evoking the "wildness" (a term French uses seven times throughout the record) of Far Out Dust's Irish and Icelandic origins. Indeed, many of the more anthemic tracks ("The Light Upon Us", "To Each His Own", "In the Fold") sound destined for use in whichever young adult fantasy film is coming out next, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But Talos falls prey here to a dose of one-dimensional songwriting and production, as the majority of the songs are characterized by vague lyricism and a prevailing emotional cocktail of wonder, loneliness, melancholy, and tenacity.
French does, however, show promising signs in moments throughout the record, which, if teased, could lead to exciting projects down the road. The stripped back piano ballad "On and On" allows French's voice to soar and break with purpose, as though he were singing the blues. The following track "Let Go" is the best anthem of the record, featuring uplifting, brassy synths which climb and climb to the end. "Dawn, the Front" offers the best instrumental of the record, following its singular verse with a building assault of thick, punchy synths signaling the break of day. Talos has certainly created a specific mood with his music, a mood inspired by the wildernesses and wonderment around, and he's good at it. The next part of his journey will be to descend from the ambiguous ether into a grounded and personal state of songcraft where his sense of wonder will be better expressed.