Since ‘Like What’ EP burst onto the scene in 2015, Tennyson have steadily remained one of the more exciting acts in electronic music. With an incredible ear for detail, the EP featured jazz-infused sonic adventures that were playfully pristine and instantly recognisable. They continued releasing one-off singles until 2017’s ‘Uh Oh!’ EP, which amplified much of the musical characteristics that all of us Tennyson fans had grown to love so much.
Now it’s 2019, another 2 years later, and so comes the release of a new Tennyson EP, this one called ‘Different Water’. A suitable title, because these set of tracks indeed showcase a new side of Tennyson.
Streamer 2-Chome is one of the singles that definitely needed some time to grow on me. At first it struck me as a watered down version of Tennyson’s usual style, but its dreamy atmosphere has become one of my personal highlights of the EP, with new details still emerging. And the last minute of the song, where the song suddenly breaks open into a jittery passage with wild percussion and a lively flute, is nothing short of masterfully done.
Melonpan is similarly lowkey, with many interlocking rhythms and a Tycho-esque synth melody that soars above them. Here, the climactic pay-off is also saved for the last minute of the song, a somewhat bold compositional choice especially for the first 2 opening tracks.
‘Wintersleep’ has Tennyson going full catchy pop-music, albeit with some subtle glitches worked into it. Luke’s voice is delicate and fragile, his delivery flawed but it works for the song. Halfway, the track goes into an epic buildup that reminisces of last-decade Coldplay material or something like Sigur Ros. For me, the instrumental lacks just a little bit of grandeur, but they did nail the uplifting atmosphere.
The title track follows, and it’s a return to the instrumental. It’s somewhat difficult to distill a coherent theme from the track, with the saxophone and guitar not always mixing together all that successfully. The repeating rhythm becomes a bit stale after a while, and stands in stark contrast to the developing nature of the rest of the instrumental.
‘Tick Tock’’s opening minute sounds like it could have been a Bibio track, which I mean in the best way possible. A buildup follows with a beautiful arpeggio that climbs and falls over the adventurous chord progression. The climax of the song is a wonderful release of tension, but the song truly shines in the quieter passages of the track, where quiet strings and deep bass broaden the emotional gravity. I am reminded of KOAN Sound & Asa’s ‘Sanctuary’ EP, with the track being so cinematic in nature.
‘Face the Night’ returns to pop, but succeeds effortlessly in ending the EP on a high note. When Luke lets his voice soar on the second chorus, it proves very difficult to not shout along when he sings ‘this is how we face the night!’ A deliciously cheesy guitar solo follows, and then when you think it’s over, Tennyson can’t help but deliver an encore of tropical percussion and sounds of the jungle. This is a great track to listen to before a night out, I would say.
Different Water is the EP that we needed to hear from Tennyson. It’s refreshing but still so undeniably recognisable, sometimes powerfully understated and sometimes broadly expansive. But, after all these years of singles and EP’s, my curiosity about how they would tackle a full length album is peaked even more…