The new album from Tropics, aka 27-year-old Chris Ward, looks outwards, armed with a newfound confidence that foregrounds his vocal performance and songwriting.
It’s a musical progression that mirrors a personal one: the early Tropics output was all made in the idyllic, if isolated setting of Ward’s grandmother’s empty house in the seaside town of Southsea, which he moved into after graduating from university to focus on writing and recording. He was alone there - “like, really alone. For days, I had literally no distractions.” Having moved to London in 2013, Ward now splits his time between the city and the road, having played in America, Mexico and across Europe throughout the past year with his live band Keith Vaz and Morgan Hislop.
Tropics’ new full-length Rapture, released on the 16th of February, is the culmination of this journey. A multi-instrumentalist from an early age, Ward has always drawn on his musical upbringing when composing, but this time around he’s pushed himself to develop a fuller sound than ever with the help of Vaz, Hislop and specialist jazz drummer Gillan McLaughlin. Taking influence from Peter Gabriel, Max Roach and Arthur Russell, Ward has crafted an album that fuses his love of avant-garde percussion, the pop-leaning hooks of classic 70's and 80's singer-songwriters, and deep production that takes cues from ambient music.
Whether filling dance floors or simply filling up your headspace, Rapture is an intricate and intimate record that presents the many faces of Tropics in a more revealing light than ever before.