Tom Misch becomes a puppeteer of emotions on new album, Geography

Geography shimmers with a sincerity and sentimentality that is rare to find elsewhere. Opening track ‘Before Paris’ encapsulates Misch’s ability to become a puppeteer of your emotions. Sensitively gliding over a spoken-word monologue, Misch diffuses any tension in your soul with delicate fretwork. Then the beat steps in, and suddenly you’re bouncing out of the shadows and into sun-drenched streets. Creamy guitar hooks hopscotch over a subtle yet enchanting violin drone, and sets the tone for the rest of the charming 13-track album.

Made largely in his bedroom, Geography plays homage to Misch’s homebred virtuosity. With an ear for hooks that developed from making beats in his room at 16, Misch navigates the spectrum of emotions effortlessly throughout the album. Soothing ballads (‘Movie’, ‘You’re On My Mind’) ease into immersive instrumental cuts (‘Tick Tock’, ‘Isn’t She Lovely’), before swaying into the vibrant dance-shuffle of the albums brighter, sexier territory (‘Disco, Yes’, ‘Water Baby’). It’s in this territory where we’re welcomed by stellar collaborations. Poppy Adjudha’s warm vocals radiate powerfully through ‘Disco, Yes’, riding the waves of Misch’s production with fluidity and grace. Loyle Carner’s verses on ‘Water Baby’ extend the honest narrative of his seminal debut Yesterday’s Gone, injecting both grit and sincerity into Misch’s sun-kissed disco hooks.

In the wrong setting, the album oozes with a bit too much syrup to be completely palatable. At times, it feels like a cerebral workout, with maximalist funk enveloping your ears and running around your head until you’re dizzy. The handclap beats and punchy hooks can teeter towards monotony, but all in a way that gets you hooked. You begin to crave Misch’s euphoric, riff-laden soundscapes, desiring his lacy fretwork to carry you through towards sunnier times.

Meg Firth