Image by Gui Martinez
The word that comes to mind when considering the body of work from Los Angeles native Suzanne Kraft is evolving. The producer and multi-instrumentalist has always maintained an aura of L.A cool melancholy, first introduced on 2011’s disco influenced Green Flash EP, then extracted and isolated on the sparse and emotional Talk From Home. How he has projected this aura across his releases has come to reveal Kraft as a multifaceted and transformative artist. In some ways this revelation has unfolded slowly over the course of his discography. After trading disco funk for minimalism, it feels as though Kraft has slowly been making his way back to a fuller sound with each subsequent release. From his second solo album What You Get From Being Young to his multiple collaborations with Johnny Nash, each new track came with more layers, more flourishing textures as if the music had been in a constant state of germination all along. Things come into full bloom for this new phase on Kraft’s latest album, About You, released on Amsterdam label Melody As Truth.
On this record, the minimal synth skeletons of Kraft’s previous work are fleshed out with crisp drum machines and whining, distorted guitars to produce a collection of tracks that find themselves in the realm of dream pop and shoegaze. It may seem like an unexpected new turn of phrase but looking back, the evidence has always been there. Green Flash’s disco had a weighty poignancy to it and a sort of smoky indie sophistication. That poignancy became the through line that would inform the tone of Kraft’s ensuing work in minimalism, and that same tone finds its way into About You. On the track Waiting, a filtered, oscillating synth riff that wouldn’t be out of place on What You Get From Being Young opens before erupting into crunched out, distorted guitars. That opening riff continues ebbing just below Kraft’s softly spoken vocals and dilated pupil melodies, an essential backbone around which Waiting wraps itself. In fact, the melodic choices on About You can be traced back to a lot of Kraft’s minimal electronic works. The same chord progressions and patterns once heard solely through spacey electronics is fleshed out here on guitars and of course, Kraft’s voice. The inclusion of Kraft’s vocals and his alarmingly hook attuned songwriting makes for what is essentially moody and dazed out alt-pop.
Thematically, About You recounts snapshots of a relationship or love affairs. In this regard, the shift towards organic and dreamy indie-pop makes sense. The album is stunningly atmospheric in the sort of way that conjures specific moods and memories. At some points it’s sunny and washed in shades of summer as is the case with Screenwriter or the stoic confessions of On Our Hands. At others, it’s lonely and full of romance like on the yearning Wildlife. Blush is soft-boi romanticism at its best, with hazy washes of synth and Kraft’s breathy vocals crafting a song that sets the mood for a night spent pining over a lover. The indie-pop aesthetic on the album feels like a natural progression for Kraft, a synthesis of all that has come before it. Sharing his voice is perhaps the biggest display of vulnerability, and About You is built as a space for Kraft to feel comfortable and at ease. As an amalgamation of all that has come before it, Kraft manages to keep his work informed by himself so that even though it appears to be an entirely new (and somewhat familiar) landscape, About You is still distinctly his own.
See the music video for On Our Hands directed by Elliot Barbernell below.