With Our Thickness, Canadian Matthew Adam Hart drops his third full-length release of bedroom/livingroom pop and with any luck will make even more of a name for himself. After an interesting but somewhat uniform debut, he dropped his lo-fi gem Let's Get Ready To Crumble a couple years ago, and this newest release is yet another step in Hart solidifying his sound.
As the title suggests, this is by far the most sonically dense release that Hart has ever done, and in addition to the layers and layers of sound, he's also stepped things up a fair amount in terms of production value. Nobody is going to mistake this for a major-label release, to be sure, but many of the fraying edges have been trimmed away, leaving ten tracks of sing-along tracks that drop in for a total running time of under forty minutes.
The release opens with what is probably one of Harts best songs ever in "Paul Simon." The track thumps along with a simple programmed beat but blasts with heavy layers of keyboard horns, synths, and the limber vocals of Hart himself. "Sentiments Vs. Syllables" follows with a juicy hip-hop inspired beat and lush synth melodies that are so washed with reverb that it comes across like a pop single being played in an empty concert hall.
If one could pick out a fault of the album, it would be that it simply doesn't stray far enough from the familiar earlier work of Hart to really stand out. While he's taken a couple leaps in terms of instrumentation, many of the vocal melodies fall back to the same sort of arpeggiated phrasing that he has used so many times before. As the latter half of the album rolls around, tracks like "It's Over, It's Nothing" and "Incandescent Hearts" start to run together after the more inventive opening tracks.
As if to leave listeners on a teasing note, though, the album closes with "2 Dots On A Map," and the track completely blows away anything else on the entire release as a huge batch of string synths create a gorgeously sunny backdrop while chunky beats lumber away and heavily-treated vocals by Hart act as mostly a window-dressing while being juxtaposed with a drifting female chorus. As a whole Our Thickness seems to both explore several new fresh sounds for Hart as well as retread many things from past releases. If you haven't discovered the group yet, by all means snap up this lush slab of synth pop, but I would also just as easily recommend the overlooked Let's Get Ready To Crumble.