In today’s age of R&B, bawdy hooks and unduly objectification seem to hog the airways with a persistent snootiness. Trey Songz, amongst many other Top 40 warriors, accompany the mainstream R&B scene with their far too straightforward sexual desires that never fail to be vapid and vacuous. As almost an antithesis to this ungodly, cringy “soul” music, steps forward Moses Sumney with his debut album Aromanticism. Sumney provides us with a breathtaking vacation from these overly-raunchy crooners, and instead of guttural verses and excessively carnal hooks, he presents to us introspective poetry and tender moments to reflect on.
Sonically speaking, Aromanticism is an imaginative canvas, ranging from psyche-digging R&B and soul to touches of sanguine jazz and rock. The album feels like a fantasy universe that takes place in another galaxy, rocking back and forth among the distant planets and stars. Dangling from these stars is Sumney, always there to bring us back down to Earth with his gorgeous falsetto that allows him effortless brandishing of his emotions, whatever they may be. He wields his voice with a touching prowess; he is strong and confident, yet sounds like he could fall to pieces with the slightest touch. Surrounding his fragile, yet powerful voice exists a mish-mash of drums, synths, and acoustic guitar strums that communize the daydream-esque sounds. The sonic palette is a joyous daydream, rocketing images of happy times and unfamiliar territory into the ears. Lucky for us, the driving force behind these stunning sounds are the beautiful confessions of Sumney’s mind.
Moses Sumney appears exceedingly vulnerable, yet nonetheless sure of himself. Plastic is a beautiful revelation; Moses reveals how he’s made the most of some difficult situations with love, and despite his experience is still impotent to making the same mistakes over. He croons, “My wings are made of plastic, and so am I.” Excruciating mental anguish is a very apparent theme in Sumney’s music, as he’s able to display this feeling with both hard-hitting lyrics and suave, stirring vocals. The analgesic acoustic guitar on Plastic is a deep breath of much-needed air, as simultaneously, the way he stretches his high-pitched admissions out steals the breath right out of your lungs with its hair-raising nature.
The heart of Sumney’s message lies in the 9th track, Doomed. Moses discusses whether his finding of being aromantic may lead to his personal, and spiritual, downfall, despite the freedom it seems to give him. He wonders, “Am I vital if my heart is idle? … If lovelessness is godlessness, will you cast me to the wayside?” These self-analytical questions have Sumney doubting if what he feels is right, or if it will instead lead to his nadir. The epic rising and falling synths are reminiscent of the midnight tide wafting to and fro, delivering Sumney’s message onto a sandy beach with the utmost care. Have a look at his video for “World” below:
You can follow all his updates and tour scheduling here.
Where Sumney seems to excel most is expressing his real desires for love in a way that is peaceful, affectionate, and not in the least bit brutish. Contrary to many of the very unsettling pleas of today’s R&B, Sumney’s wants are much more intimate. On Make Out in my Car, he reveals, “I’m not tryna go to bed with you, I just wanna make out in my car.” It’s a shot of teenage innocence; he doesn’t crave anything more, just to have a nice, intimate moment with a person he has a passion for. It’s boiled down to a painless statement, and is presented as simple as it can be. This air of simplicity is exactly what makes Aromanticism such a pleasant album from start to finish. There’s no gimmicks or lies about it, and there’s no signs of any phoniness coming from the singer. Instead, all that exists is an engrossing falsetto reveling in its deepest emotions amongst tear-jerking sonic landscapes. This is something that not many singers can pull off. But, then again, not everyone is Moses Sumney.