Released: 29 June 2019
Label: Plus Fours
The night comes alive with a soulful pulse on Tropics’ third record 'Nocturnal Souls'
Under the cloak of darkness, the world takes on a clandestine aura, where the streets witness more than the eye, but an unspoken pact keeps things hush hush. Tropics’ third record, Nocturnal Souls harnesses the ambience of the urban midnight landscape with a precision that rivals the clarity of a cloudless celestial canvas drifting by above.
Tropics’ sole force Chris Ward has almost fully disposed of his exotica vibes – which his stage name suggests, his first album showcased, and second flirted with – and has instead chosen to flesh out his affection for jazz. The closest he gets to his past self is on the downtempo bossa nova of Velvet. Resisting swaying shoulders to this number is not humanly possible.
Ward’s sound breathes with a persistent atmosphere across the album; still bolstered by minimal electronica, it's his fresh grasp of soulful grooves that really illuminate the nocturnal happenings. A psychedelic slant is also on display, the layering and nuance this brings entrances and begs for a second go-around in order to fully appreciate its depths.
His one-man-band approach from end to end is stellar, with seemingly no limit to his expertise. The sultry funkadelia of instrumental cut The Heat boasts a fusion of wah guitar, twinkling keys, beguiling woodwind, and a grumble that morphs between electro and bass. Never Letting Go and Keep Me Turning Back (a collaboration with BadBadNotGood) give Ward the opportunity to exhibit the smooth and haunting capabilities, respectively, of his vocality.
The evolution of genre is evident across his work, making the release of any new material an enticing prospect, but Nocturnal Souls highlights his progression with instrumentation. A master of much Ward is, and he can now add jazz virtuoso and chaperone of the night to his expanding resume.