The Britain's Got Talent winner proves that he is worth all the hype with a terrifically stirring debut album.
I don’t tend to follow the reality TV hype. The last time I watched The X Factor it was to cheer on Olly Murs, and the last Britain’s Got Talent act I remember rooting for was Diversity back in 2009. So when I first listened to Tokio Myer’s jaw-dropping debut single ‘Bloodstream’, I didn’t hear a recent talent show winner who I was only appreciating due to their on-screen success: I heard an incredibly talented new artist showcasing a totally unique sound I had never really heard before that grabbed me by the teeth and still hasn’t let go.
Myers’ music can best be described as classical piano being slapped across the face by a cacophony of pulsating synth and drums so electric they threaten to short-circuit your speakers, with just a little bit of gospel added for good measure. But really, to attempt to put his sound into words is to do it a disservice: you really just need to grab a good pair of headphones, sit down, and listen. Myers’ music is instrumentation in its purest form – there may occasionally be vocals, but it’s really best to treat them as another tool in Myers’ arsenal to assault your eardrums with his voltaic mix of the classical and the cutting-edge: the softly-sung “I hope you find somebody / Somebody to love” repeated throughout standout single ‘Angel’ is beautifully renditioned by Myers collaborator Latir and singer/songwriter Meave, giving you much to digest vocally despite offering little of any real lyrical substance. But on the most part, that really doesn’t matter. With Myers, it’s the music that does the talking – it’s impossible to ignore that synth crashing harder than a tsunami in title track ‘Our Generation’, or the startlingly innovative cover of Robert Miles’ ‘Children’. It’s a hurricane of piano, synthesizer, drums and choir all rising, falling, taking control and smashing into each other and it’s very, very exciting…for the most part.
Perhaps my only issue with Myers as a musician is how formulaic his music can become. Despite a stirring second-half, the opening 20 minutes of Our Generation outstays its welcome somewhat with “soft piano intro leading to dramatic electronic drop gently fading to piano/synth fadeout” after “soft piano intro leading to dramatic electronic drop gently fading to piano/synth fadeout” (‘Baltimore’, ‘Bloodstream’ and ‘Angel’ all follow this trend). Although things pick up in a more exciting half-hour to conclude – ‘Mercy’ stands apart from ‘Our Generation’ which stands apart from ‘Lotus Flower’ – it’s a disappointing reality that Our Generation‘s first half is regrettably fairly repetitive, and that keeps it from being a truly great record.
But none of this is to take away from the incredible feat that Myers has pulled off at his first attempt. Our Generation is quite unlike anything else currently likely to chart, and for that alone Myers should be commended. But it’s not just that the sound is unique – it’s also so damn good. Just seconds after first hearing that truly awesome drop in ‘Bloodstream’, I rushed to the group chat with a link to the song to exclaim to my friends about “A TRULY UNGODLY TUNE” I had just found, and that was far from the only time I felt that way when listening through this album. It may be slow to get off the mark, but once it does, Tokio Myers’ debut album is a truly unique and electrifying auditory experience that you should all take the time out of your day to listen to.
Our Generation is out now via Simco