The last time I covered something from Modern Nomad was Bardo, the vinyl version of his EP on Soul Step Records. In that article, I didn’t really know much about the artist or the sub-genre “bedroom pop”. Fast forward to now and not much has changed. Another element that hasn’t changed much is how much I’m impressed with just how enjoyable Modern Nomad is as an artist. Even more so with the release of his new record, There It Is, There You Are!
Just like the last go-around, Modern Nomad’s captain, Tom McLean ventures in and out of lofty, synth-pop with the psychedelic flair of Tame Impala. But where most mainstream artists tend to get lost in dense production or a bit too reliant on nostalgia, McLean excels within the given space. There is plenty of synths, tasty guitar, and bouncy basslines, but on There It Is, There You Are, there’s a stronger sense of groove.
As much as I complained about nonsensical genre labels the last time, Modern Nomad is much more focused here.
Straight out of the gate, “Reflection” displays more polish and poise. By the time the Squeeze-flavored “Baby I Love You” comes around, you’ll already sense McLean isn’t interested in labels either! “In The Morning” is a dreamy ballad while “Feel This Way Forever” is almost R&B. In fact, there’s a good amount of blue-eyed soul throughout! “Off My Mind” gives off Hall & Oates meets Mac DeMarco vibes. Meanwhile, the album’s closer “I Want You to Say” just might be the best song Jeff Lynne never wrote.
The most interesting thing about There It Is, There You Are is how fresh and honest it is.
This isn’t a record chasing ironic 80s aesthetic or eye-rolling pretentiousness. It’s a record made by an artist who knows exactly what he wants to sound like and who he is: the solid combination of Prince and Beck. Despite not a single tear in sight, there’s a healthy amount of vulnerability too. Something lost on most artists in this style.
Even with such a strong emphasis on synths and post-production, There It Is, There You Are is gorgeous on vinyl.
Of course, at this point, would you expect anything less from Soul Step Records? I’m kind of blown away those guys even got a record pressed in today’s supply line issues! But seeing as There It Is, There You Are made it to the pressing plant, your turntable is perfect for its final destination! If you like your funk endearing and your soul with a twist of experimentation, just get this record already.
There It Is, There You Are is now available exclusively from Soul Step Records.