While plenty of musicians are beholden to us as listeners and in truth, owe us nothing besides an entertaining experience, there’s something to praise about any artist who can tap into the human experience. I know it might sound corny to use phrases like that, but music that’s reflective of its time, but also manages to transcend it into a moving and entertaining sonic experience is kind of a feat.
Whether it’s David Bowie capturing the feeling of change that came with the fall of the Berlin wall, or the plethora of post 9/11 music and bands formed that captured the unease. In today’s world, there’s no more prescient than the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a rough ride with the loss of loved ones, long-term relationships, businesses, and productions on a massive scale. There’s a lot to be upset about. Rick Christian, a Canadian electronic artist/singer-songwriter completely understands that and channels all those frustrating, saddening, and moving thoughts and feelings and pours them into his newest album, the aptly titled “The New Normal”. It’s an album that doesn’t just wear its emotions on its sleeves but has them practically tattooed on its chest, it’s an exciting if not emotionally exhausting listening experience that already acts as a highlight in the 2021 musical landscape.
As a composer, Christian leans towards atmospheric and moody instrumentals. Not quite synth-heavy and I’d never call it bombastic, but it’s rich and never allows itself to go static. It captures a very cinematic quality that makes it perfect for the inevitable YouTube supercuts of the world on pause that we’ve been stuck inside of for the past year. It’s the best kind of frustrating musical experience if only because of how accurate and painstakingly honest its lyrical components are. Tracks like the opener “The human race”, “a great reset” and the penultimate “Machine” are all great examples. I wouldn’t exactly call a lot of the lyrical content “groundbreaking”.
They’re all really forward songs that you can already learn a lot from just the titles alone which I will say can sometimes leave a little to be desired. Maybe a few more nods and subtle implications to future actions would have been nice. The other thing that might hold back this album for some is that despite capturing the feeling of the world at large, it feels sometimes shockingly impersonal. Christian never shy’s away from inserting himself as subject matter when it comes to references of relationship woes and how it feels looking at things as just an everyday guy, but I think a little more time and heft spent on Christian as a subject himself would have turned this album into an almost legendary status for electronic indie.
Christian also keeps busy as a visual artist and each track in this album has a corresponding video that is all worth checking out. I highly recommend this album for electronic fans both novice and the die-hards who might be looking for something truly special.