Love, this is a dark world and I’ve lost focus / Please tell me you need me
It’s rare to find an album that seamlessly and perfectly fuses two ordinarily opposing aesthetics together, but on his 2010 debut album Cerulean, Baths (the electronic project of Will Wiesenfeld), does exactly that. Cerulean somehow manages to make glitchy, stuttering beats as soothing as a Brian Eno drone album.
You could describe Baths’s sound as somewhere between chillwave and glitch-dance, with a dash of Passion Pit thrown in, specifically the sound of Wiesenfeld’s weedy falsetto. But where Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos brashly screams his lyrics, putting off listeners with a low tolerance for singers of the grating persuasion, Wiesenfeld alternately buries his voice in the mix (♥), harmonizes with himself over several layers (Apologetic Shoulder Blades), and gives his voice a sexy R&B edge (Lovely Bloodflow).
How exactly Baths manages to take such off-kilter beats and hyperactive samples and make them almost lullaby-like is bewildering, but he undeniably pulls it off with flying colors (or with a flying color, his choice being cerulean). The album art’s washed out and overexposed whites and blues match perfectly the over-saturated yet lush samples and synths used throughout.
Only a few less-than-memorable tracks in the middle of the album prevent it from being a perfect listen (you won’t remember Rafting Starlit Everglades even after hearing it a dozen times, though neither will you feel compelled to skip it). At just over 43 minutes, Cerulean is the perfect length from Apologetic Shoulder Blade’s heavenly a capella intro to Plea’s climactic… pleas. Ultimately, the record is relaxing and smooth enough for background music but engaging and beautiful enough to focus your entire attention on without fear of boredom, and that achievement does not cease to impress.