Beautiful Desolation

Beautiful Desolation

Paul Thomas Saunder’s debut full-length album is an enveloping collection of synth-pop that sounds huge—a particularly impressive accomplishment since it was recorded in a hotel gatehouse using what the songwriter/producer describes as the “bare essentials.” The album’s delirious wash of synths and airy textures evince Saunder’s discriminating influences (he cites Blade Runner composer Vangelis and multifaceted French producer/musician Jean-Claude Vannier as two of them), but the charm of Beautiful Desolation lies in its accessible, haunting melodies. “Good Women” is a ballad with a languid groove and echoing vocal melody. The driving “In High Heels Burn It Down” recalls the shoegazing pop of My Bloody Valentine. “A Lunar Veteran's Guide to Re-Entry” offers a gorgeous, nostalgic hook over a blend of acoustic and electronic instruments. This delicate balance—which simultaneously offers complex sonic textures and immediate pop melodies—makes Beautiful Desolation a remarkable achievement.

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