Welshman Stephen Black has multi-talented fingers in many pies, running his label Businessman, as well as playing on record with contemporaries such as Cate Le Bon, Slow Club, and Teleman. His solo project Sweet Baboo now comes back to Moshi Moshi with it’s 6th album. Approached as a positive antithesis to 2016 Wild Imagination is a soft pop bubble to protect you from this world.
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There probably comes a time when Stephen Black is stressed, but for us, he has to pretend he’s not. Protecting us with his shield of breezing psychedelic pop, his work as Sweet Bamboo has zero problems and ten different sources of sunlight. ‘Wild Imagination’ is another record that proves how rich with psychedelic pop his life is; a player for Cate Le Bon and Teleman, this record is filled with learned hooks and beautifully silly arrangements, the kind that’ll make your life feel like an aged cartoon.
Fans of gardens, rejoice: I feel like this is the perfect record for them. Imagine mowing your lawn and drinking lemonade to the pastoral synth melodies of “Swallows”, Black’s nasal voice soaring over the fence as his synth melodies align like Vic Mars playing tennis with Jacco Gardner. I didn’t even go into this paragraph meaning to make that pun, but here we are. “Tennis” is a lovely slice of summer melancholy, its looping guitar and evening-time bass hitting squelchy vintage synths in a wonderful tradeoff between serenity and silliness.
It’s not just Mac DeMarco making those retro-electronic indie folk hits, no it is not: “The Night Gardener”, though precisely a minute long, has that same strange tone to it, while the yearning synth chords of “Hold On” move slowly and surely into a nighttime ballad of guitar tangles. This record makes me feel like I’m an animation coming to life, Black’s silly electronics and homely band work combining quite adorably. I'll call 'Wild Imagination' my friend.
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- Wild Imagination by Sweet Baboo
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