Robert J. Kemp – Warmer Now – Album Review
Released on July 1, Robert J. Kemp’s Warmer Now is a catholic venture into the world of electronic ambiance. This 8-track EP is the latest composition from Kemp, following up a long line of homegrown musical endeavours. Written and recorded in a bedroom, with mastering from Paul Wardlaw at ArcticLine Studios, Warmer Now falls somewhere in between house party and indie rock, hitting all metaphorical high notes on the way down.
The album opens on the rippling “Sun Hands” that slowly builds its ambient piano tones into a forceful wave of sound, with the vocals fluttering in an out from behind it. The powerful chord changes later on and a synth add a strong layer to the end of the song although it does feel a little long considering its droning style. There’s a heavier rock influence on “Two Bodies” with the thumping drums and distorted guitars, weaved into Kemp’s dreamy sound. As the guitars start to bloom the drums gain an utterly catchy rhythm, that infect the guitars as the song goes on.
The sway to the beat of “Summerhaze” gives it an instantly catchy hook, with the ambient vocals and ethereal synth lines giving it an almost glorious (in a biblical sense) feeling by the end. The dance-synth direction Kemp takes his sound on this track is a powerful focus for his style, and one he could certainly steer into powerful pop hits. The dense sound is stripped away on “Touch/Kiss” where Kemp crafts an ambient pulsating interlude between tracks.
This interlude flows so perfectly into “Nepenthe” it almost feels like the two were separated for the sake of radio-playability. The track layers crackling distorted guitars, bouncing synth lines and vocals on top of the pulse of “Touch/Kiss” turning it into a dance-pop evolution of the track. When the percussion is added to this track the song hits its stride with each addition pushing it higher and higher in energy.
“You, Always” is the most guitar-focused track on the record, leaving the drum machine to fill out most of the track’s leftover room. The track’s lush tone also contains some emotionally charged moments with every call of the title.
“The Youngest We’ll Ever Be” is a build and rotation of layers on a repeating chord progression, while the watery synths, delicate guitars and dance-beat on “Midnight Oceans” show a focused and poppy Kemp, at the top of his game.
Warmer Now is an album that certainly showcases talent and finesse of sound consistently track to track, it also shows a lack of restraint at times and a sense of playing it safe at others. This isn’t to say there’s a bad song on the record, overall Kemp delivers a strong album from someone who clearly knows and loves what they’re doing.