Today we’re listening to bedroom artist, If This Is a Man and his album, Vemod. This album is If This Is a Man’s third release and feels a lot more focused than his sophomore release, Scrapbook. That’s to be expected, since Scrapbook was a compilation of demos from 2009 to 2013. That being said, Vemod is focused in its mood and direction; all is cold and electronic. What do I mean, well, for a start, the word ‘vermod’, means tender sadness, so go figure.
This album is a wonderfully fluid collection of songs that all fit together well; none of the songs feel out of place and each one has been carefully crafted with the loving touch of a singer-songwriter.
Start Again, the first track on this album, is a strong and emotional piece. The guitar, vocals and synth are all chilling, especially as the tune goes on and grows, shrinks, crescendos and eventually disperses as quiet as it initially came. The vocals on this track and most of the others are all very tame, but this fits the style that the album is going for and they are equally as cold as the rest of the style.
This is the general mood for the rest of the album; a massive sigh that spreads across bitterly cold synths, simple guitar strums and gentle vocals like a smooth winter breeze.
Don’t Miss Everything is another track that uses this formula again. However, it does have some well thought out moments: like the guitar tinkering about halfway through the track. It all starts to sound very Death Cab for Cutie like. The vocal melody at the end of this track is blissful and I can’t help but give enough props to If This Is a Man for them.
The direction this album is going in develops into something much more mentally and sonically arousing than Scrapbook. This evolution also feels natural and well-timed for If This Is a Man.
Done For, is a fine example, and most likely one of my favourite tracks. It shows off with the different layers and textures that this artist can create around his work. The thick distortion on this track is to die for and I think I almost gave in and fell in love with the… I don’t know how to describe the synths… winey? In a good way I swear.
Experimentation seems to be what drives this album, besides the wintery themes and that’s awesome. It would have been killer to see If This Is a Man experiment with his vocals a bit more, but sometimes it’s better to stick to what you know.
Beyond Actuality experiments with the cinematic and most people could see this as the best track; it sounds professional, it sounds atmospheric and it could by all means be the best track. Although I do still prefer the texturing and synths in Done For. The piano and cello in this piece weep over the top of samples and it all just adds together to create this depressing and hopeless atmosphere; it’s all very cool.
Vemod is an album that should be enjoyed at 3am, with headphones, wine and a chip on your shoulder. With its gripping atmosphere and deafening themes of loneliness, Vemod may not be something you want to enjoy, but you can’t help but love the beautiful instrumentation and moving lyrics that make the striking movements of Vemod.