“Seems like yesterday was all in my head.” – Pell, on “Lost”
In 2012, Tomas Barfod released his first solo LP, Salton Sea. Originally known for being the drummer of electronic pop group WhoMadeWho, Barfod’s hour-plus debut bounced back and forth between instrumentals and tracks laced with vocals; while credited for the basement intimacy, his follow-up LP, Love Me, is more atmospheric, pleasant and pure. It is focused and majestic, poppy and less exhausting — shorter songs and catchier hooks. Aquatic vibrations. Love Me contains only two instrumentals (a minimal number compared to his previous effort) and yes, one of them is called “Destiny’s Child.”
Since 2012, the Danish multi-instrumentalist has grown significantly: touring the world, making foreign friends, crafting a project cleaner and more focused than his debut. While Love Me presents an expert drummer and unique beat patterns, it is the synth layers and poppy guest verses that shape the cohesion.
Vocalist Nina K assists on four of the eleven tracks, impressing especially on the orchestrated chiller “Aftermath,” a minimal lullaby where Nina beckons you to, “Meet me after dark.” Barfod adds layers on layers for tracks like “Honey” but follows up with simple slowdowns, as evidenced by the aforementioned track.
Much like on Salton Sea, Jeppe Kjellberg (guitarist for WhoMadeWho) provides distorted, auto-tuned vocals on the project’s most glitchy track, which, in this instance, is “Blue Matter.” Sleep Party People add underwater grooves similar to the work of contemporary band Glass Animals. It is a dripping, wavey splash that Barfod soundtracks with half a dozen layers of percussion.
It would be interesting to hear an entire instrumental project from Barfod. Perhaps it’s in the future. Love Me will certainly bring him the attention to release a passion project like that. The instrumental “Mandalay” is just a taste of this visionary’s talent, a synth wave racing through the night sky, sweeping up boats and whales and anything willing to attempt a nautical battle.
While the two instrumentals stand strong on their own, they work as mere popcorn intermissions on an LP as full of guest verses as Love Me. Barfod spaces out the wordless songs (one is track three, one is third to the last) like the beginnings of new acts.
The biggest letdown here is “Sell You,” a dull throwaway with Night Beds visionary Winston Yellen’s vocals sounding like they are coming from two miles down the road. It was my most anticipated track on the project and while it demands two listens, it’s the only one not worthy of a third play.
Night Beds. Sleep Party People. Despite the bedtime names, this is most definitely an energized LP, perfect for inebriated late night strolls and early morning dance moves. It is intimate and divine, like accidentally walking into the wrong room and finding strangers jumping about.
Pell, who just released his stellar project Floating While Dreaming, closes out Love Me with “Lost.” He is the only rapper on the project, but you won’t hear him rapping on the final track. Instead, he sings over groovy drums, creating the most R&B and lucid record on the entire album, further showcasing the range and scope that Barfod is encapsulating in just a quick 45 minutes.
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Love Me on Amazon.