Moses Sumney ‘Aromanticism’: Exploring Love

moses cover
Photo: Pitchfork

Aromanticism’ Sumney describes as “an aversion or absence of romantic love, or the presence of romantic love to a diminished degree”.

A rather compelling narrative interrogating the idea of romance as being something that is normative and necessary. This album is one meant to be heard as a whole with songs that effortlessly drift into the next.

Sumney grew-up in San Bernadino and moved to Ghana at the age of 10. He studied creative writing at UCLA and soon taught himself guitar and began performing at 20.

In this soundtrack we are able to experience Sumney’s blooming bouquets of vocal harmonies alongside some lush acoustic ensembles allows for a rather gentle, atmospheric and meditative soundscape.

‘Man On the Moon’, an acoustic-type ballad, full of very simple, imagery-laden lyrics and resonating instrumentals. Sumney opens the narrative by delving into ideas of belonging, singing “tugging on the tide so I’m not on my own”.

‘Don’t Bother Calling’ features a gentle guitar accompanied with Sumney’s beautifully bending vocal harmonies rolling over and over like a wave, putting your ears at ease.

Keeping the acoustic vibes rolling, ‘Plastic’ is so soothing and easy going. The soundscape created in this track reminds me very much of a Frank Ocean sound, lush and alluring. Sumney’s vocals maintain this haunting yet beautifully melodic presence throughout. The accompanying crescendo-building strings create a sense of angst and uncertainty as Sumney hypnotically sings “my wings are made of plastic”. The lyrics kind of have this everlasting power to them, as the song ends with Sumney singing, “My wings are made of plastic, My wings are made-up, And so am I”.

‘Quarrel’ is like floating on a fluffy white cloud. A beautifully delicate harp chiming in at the start combined with an indulgent bass guitar. Sumney’s vocals almost speak another language unbeknownst to what we may be familiar, it’s almost as if his voice is an instrument.

As the lonely trumpets play out, ‘Stoicism’ chimes in. Sumney’s meaningful lyrics emphasise the at times thrown around concept of ‘love’ in today’s society, that is, do we really mean it when we say ‘I love you’.  His lyrics speak truth as they perhaps try to reflect on how we often don’t hear ‘I love you’ being genuinely said, too often. In particular the ‘stoicism’ he talks about appears to refer to how he perceives his mother and her stoic attitude and how she has embodied, over all her years, the thrown around word …’love’.

Moving on nicely from the previous track, ‘Make Out in my Car’ confronts the realities of love in our modern culture, as something being a kiss and run kind of thing rather than love being something that is respected, sacred and everlasting, and Sumney asks us to question this. As he sings with a certain subtle desperation “I’m not trying to get to bed with you, I just wanna make out in the car”. Unfortunately, these are the lyrics we don’t hear to often in music, but Sumney’s polite realness is what makes this song last well beyond its end. Additionally, the resonating clicks,  heartbeat drum and interweaving majestical flute playing out in the background alongside Sumney chalky, raw and delicate vocals really make the lyrics flourish in the track.

‘Doomed’ is one of those tracks that sends shivers up your spine with its deep, atmospheric soul-hitting sound. The slow impassioned synthetic organ is almost spiritual, like something you hear at the beginning of a church service as the congregation stands. Sumney’s vocals add brightness to the rather solemn lyrics, constantly altering his tone appropriately to the lyrics, making for a seriously moving masterpiece.

Maintaining the simplicity, the album has procured throughout, ‘Indulge Me’ is built around a beautiful guitar which plays along with Sumney’s warming, richly indulgent vocals. The song gives you that feeling as if you are sitting at the beach watching the sunset as the waves roll over in the distance.

Its fair to say that this album is not what one would call a head-banger but its far from monotonous. Rather its penned in a way to giving meaning and shed light on one simple word that can be defined in so many different ways, ‘Love’.

Personally, I wouldn’t define this as an album as such, rather a piece of poetic art made to last long beyond the final word.

You can purchase Moses’ ‘Aromanticism’ on iTunes here.


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