Somewhere within the dreamlike indie-folk sonic milieu of Last Animals artist A. Smyth finds an expansive lyrical introspection of life itself. Melding the words and the music into one long-form piece, Smyth portrays the thematic heft of his debut in a symbiotic way, where each element is as important as the other.
From the slow textural fade-in of ‘Rain Boys’, A. Smyth conveys the hazy undercurrent that flows beneath Last Animals via softly picked acoustic guitars, distant background soundscapes and a vocal that has a hypnotic gentleness to it. This opening serves to establish the sonic palette that Smyth draws from through the record, adding to the flowing nature of the record itself.
Last Animals is not without it dynamic peaks and troughs, however. From the urgent twist and turns of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ , which captures the anxiety of how our present affects our future, followed by the pulsing rhythm of ‘Say You Won’t Mind’, to the rumbling shuffle of ‘River’, the record covers the spectrum laid out in its indie-folk production.
However, its the slow-burn spark of ‘When It Calls’ that captures the imagination. Set against a tense bedrock of swirling backdrops, a persistent steady beat and impactful stops and starts, the song uses the themes of experience, doubt and clear introspection outlined earlier in the record as a communicative device for the listener. Add to this, the hushed vocal performance form Smyth and ‘When It Calls’ is Last Animals is the album’s high-water mark.
And so it goes, Last Animals is a deftly crafted piece from A. Smyth. Adding a sense of abstraction and weight to the indie-folk genre, Smyth delivers an album that looks at past lessons and learns from them internally, ending on ‘Tempt’ with a sense of momentary but earned catharsis.