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Over the course of his last few excellent LPs West Midlands resident Steven Wilkinson has pretty much come up with his own signature sound, one can now utter that something sounds Bibio-esque such are his achievements. He produces a kind of faded polaroid postcard autumnal pop which owes as much to Boards of Canada as it does to J Dilla. Fans of the more hip hop aspects of his last couple of records may initially be disappointed in this new LP which is much more reflective and downbeat almost throughout but I can report, having spent an afternoon with it while I worked in this office getting together your Record Store Day orders, that it is indeed a marvellous thing taken on its own terms and not compared with previous work.
I had kind of expected him to go full-on pop with this record but with the odd exception it’s back to his earlier fingerpicked acoustic guitar sound albeit with the addition of his always excellent vocals. Early tracks such as ‘Dye the Water Green’ and ‘Mirroring All’ take their cue from the excellent Benoit Pioulard album ‘Lasted’ which furrows a similar downcast brand of picked guitar led melancholy. The latter track is particularly gorgeous with its wave-lapped percussion and hopelessly autumnal hues. I’ve been very pleased to hear ‘A tout a L’Heure’ played regularly on 6Music of late. It’s certainly Bibio’s most straightforward work and comes at a time in the album where it just...just...begins to lag a little, yet I don’t think it’s his best work, lacking the inventiveness of some of the more upbeat affairs on ‘Mind Bokeh’. ‘Sycamore Silhouetting’ consists of gorgeous Nick Drake-like guitar figures, beautifully played with a melody you would kill for.
‘You’ momentarily brings back the Dilla cut ups of his more recent work, yet the final few tracks with exception of the rave like ‘Business Park’ drift by in a gorgeously warm, summery acoustic haze that it’s hard not to completely fall in love with. Bibio is that rarest of things, a producer who is equally at home producing beat laden electronica and acoustic melancholy. Here he has veered heavily towards the latter and despite my aching for some of the cut up pop alchemy of yore. I am completely smitten by its deliriously gorgeous warm acoustic haze.
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