Recording information: Dorchester Avenue, Glasgow.
The much anticipated sophomore long-player from the Glaswegian pop confectioner, Midnight Sun finds Christopher Duncan doubling down on the lush, homespun chamber pop of his Mercury Prize-nominated 2015 debut, but with significantly bolder strokes -- it may take a bit longer to sink in, but it rewards a patient ear and an open heart. The stuttered electronic hand claps that made up the bulk of Architect's rhythm section are gone, having been replaced by a more ornate, though no less mechanical arsenal of percussion. In fact, Midnight Sun is an unapologetically voltaic beast, with Duncan's impeccable, cathedral-like choral arrangements and major and minor 7th-heavy melodies drifting in and out of the charged ether like hungry fireflies on a muggy July evening. Sumptuous opener "Nothing More" sets an awfully high bar, effortlessly fusing the airy, electro-folk tenor that dominated much of his previous outing to a more brooding and stylistically cosmopolitan predisposition; one that, according to Duncan, was informed largely by the TV series The Twilight Zone -- the apocalyptic, sci-fi-minded Midnight Sun, released in 1961, was the name of episode 65. Lyrically, Duncan plays around with that idea of existential dread throughout the LP's just under 45-minute runtime, especially on the exotic and alluring title cut and the hymn-like closer "Window." However, his spectral voice moves within billowing clouds of elliptical melody, many of which are painted using much brighter colors than their melancholic librettos would suggest, resulting in something that's very much like the anachronistic cult anthology television show that helped to inspire them. ~ James Christopher Monger