Photo: Tourist - Apollo (YouTube)

Album Review: Everyday – Tourist

Tourist, the London-based musician born as William Phillips, should be a household name by now. Back in 2015, he won the Grammy for writing everyone’s favourite one-night-stand anthem ‘Stay With Me’ alongside James Napier and Sam Smith, and the poignant delicacy that caused everyone to fall in love with the track is just as evident in his own work. After his breakthrough 2016 debut U, detailing the end of a four year relationship, and EP Wash, which produced phenomenal collaborations, Tourist has stamped his name on the industry.

The second album from the artist, Everyday, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Dreamlike, fuzzy, and meditative, it really is a record for just that — the moments that make up our lives as it goes along. More sombre and slow than previous projects, its nature as a therapeutic work is apparent. Described by the artist as a “reflection on family, mental health, love and loss,” the tightly produced LP seems to seep into your brain as you listen. Layers of sample work and synth fill the record with soft and intricate sounds that display Tourist’s deft talent. The progression from U is incredible. While Tourist has always been good, the development in technology usage and sound is undeniable.

The album opens with ‘Awake’, which feels like a melodic interpretation of when you first wake up. The fuzziness of sound, combined with small elements of vocal sampling about two minutes in, draws to mind early mornings. The track is an artistic representation of that soft space between being sleep and awake, where you’re half-eyed and the light is just coming through. It’s an excellent introduction to Tourist’s sound and the intricacy that comes with it. It is delicate and stunning.

The use of vocal sampling on the album is really something. The next two tracks, ‘Emily’ and ‘Someone Else’, are shining examples of this. The former’s introduction features a soft male voice talking of “days when you wake up and you just wish at the end of the day that you hadn’t, cuz you haven’t done anything it’s just been a trial,” before dipping into transcendental, looping electronica that begins to crescendo. Deeply layered and detailed, it feels fragile. The reflection on mental health adds to the overall feeling that the album is a form of catharsis for the artist — something to reveal a rawness of emotion still possible in the genre typically associated with the dance floor. Similarly, in ‘Someone Else’, the title is repeated throughout, humming low beneath synths and beats. It’s a personal favourite. The ambiguity of the track gives it a yearning and aching feeling — is the artist longing for, or to be, someone else? Has the subject found someone else? All is uncertain, and that sense of uncertainty seems to carry across the record. Reflection isn’t easy, nor straightforward. Just like the tracks Tourist provides, it feels consuming, emotional, and layered.

As for the slightly more upbeat, Tourist provides this in the forms of ‘Love Theme’, ‘Violet’, and ‘Hearts’. The first is of particular quality in its steady, heartbeat-like rhythm that remains constant despite increased synths and distortions. This metaphor for love’s power does not go unacknowledged. Once more, Tourist displays his poignant ability to capture emotions musically. The heavier beats of the first two, with entrancing and steady rhythms, feel more akin to the tracks experienced on Tourist’s debut, but this is no bad thing. However, they do not betray the overall cohesiveness of sound, and still feel just as dreamy and bittersweet.

The album closes with ‘Affection’, a whispery and beautiful track which drags you into Tourist’s hypnotic, enriched world that feels simple and complex all at once. Soft, humming, and explorative, ‘Affection’ fades out to offer that sense of emotional release.  The record feels contemplative and ambient. It belongs to these new, warmer days and to those liminal, blurred spaces between awake and asleep, day and night, friendship and romance, love and heartbreak. It is an album of reflection that manages to capture the human experience with hardly any words at all. Everyday is electronic music at its finest. I could listen to it any day of the year.

9/10

Tags: album review, Electronic, Everyday, tourist

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