By Declan Roberts (@DeclanMR)
Night Beds’ sophomore record combines a mixture of elements from techno, folk and hip hop. Winston Yellen’s lyrics are reminiscent of artists like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean, working out break-up after break-up in line after line. The subject of love and love-loss forms the key theme of Ivywild. Many tracks, such as the crooning piano ballad ‘Lay Your Hands’, run the risk of cliché. The repetitive, sample-heavy ‘Love Streams’ and glitter-ball dirge ‘I Give It’ also ponder love with similarly unsatisfying results.
Ivywild is a slog at times, but moments of wonder do crop up now and then. Opener ‘Finished’ has a gorgeous synth melody and develops and flows, a breath of fresh air from the roundabout nature of some of the other tracks. The track has a firm identity of its own, which is something the album suffers with as a whole. Ivywild feels lost and unsure, in need of more direction. ‘[9-6] slack-jaw’ feels like a house mashup made for a Ministry of Sound compilation and ‘Melrose’ is a pale Lumineers imitation.
More promising tracks like ‘Moon Sugar’ and ‘On High’ tell you that, for better or worse, Night Beds has the potential to share a stable with higher-caliber acts (Jamie xx and Chad Valley spring to mind), occupying the echelon of good all-rounders. But for this to happen the approach needs to be tighter; keep it simple, strip back the bundle of genre experimentation and the listening experience will become less of a battle.