HeadStuff Choice Picks: Talos
Calling a musician a ‘sonic architect’ is a pretentious accusation, and one of the biggest signifiers that the writer is leaning hard on hoary clichés. Eoin French, who records under the name Talos is, however, both a musician and a former architect so is feels apt to describe him in such a way. Regardless, it’s his attention to songcraft on the critically lauded Wild Alee that proves he hasn’t lost the designers touch. French was on the verge of moving out to America to make good on his former profession before his girlfriend was struck down with what turned out to be Tuberculosis. Choosing to remain by her side, he stayed in Ireland and started releasing music under the Talos moniker and things took off faster than he ever thought they would.
What’s the architectural world loss is the music world’s gain as Wild Alee ended up being one of the more impressive debut releases this country has seen in recent years. It’s a swooning, searching work full of deeply felt falsettos, electronic wizardry and atmospheric hooks. It’s an album which marries the island’s penchant for male singer/songwriters and gentle crooners with the some of the sonic experimentation of James Blake or John Hopkins.
Second track ‘Odyssey’ is a journey that—not unlike Odysseus’ escapades—starts out small but gradually manoeuvres into something grand. The song’s second half builds into spellbinding cacophony of synths and French’s own ever shifting vocal work. While that searing crescendo may sound euphoric, the words sung are still laced with a sense of resignation. Lines like “I wake to your likeness / But how come you’re here?” have a weary acceptance of knowing we’ll never be certain with our choices in life or more specifically in partners. French is in that specific kind of head over heels where he’s still in disbelief that who he’s with could feel the same way about him.
Throughout the record, on songs like ‘Your Love is an Island’, there are plenty of moments of emotional, electronic upsurges but the bittersweet realities of being in love are always addressed. The strength in French’s lyricism is found in his frankness. At times It seems the fear of his own feelings for his significant other almost seem to outweigh the affection he holds. “Your love is an island / I’m scorched in the sands of it” he sings on the chorus. The speaks of a burning intensity that worries him, his devotion to her means he feels what she feels, which is problematic when that it means he can’t help her.
Still it’s the musicianship that impresses most. Wild Alee displays a depth of subtle versatility that may not make itself apparent on first listen. Talos can rouse listeners on the more stripped back but no less stirring efforts like ‘Piece(s)’ with it’s gentle plinking piano riffs and softly sung affectations. ‘209′ is almost spectral and sinister while ‘Wetlands’ is an expansive, cinematic indicator of what’s to come. With a name like Talos, and tracks like ‘Endgame’ and ‘Odyssey’, French could run the risk of alienating the average listener with highbrow literary references but his songs are resolutely approachable. His music has a certain level of complexity no doubt, but it’s never haughty or esoteric, rather it’s for pretty much everyone.