For those who listened to the first part of græ back in February, you may still be reeling from and repeating the triumphant return of Moses Sumney even today. Yet here we are, gifted a few months later with the second part of the record. Two part albums can sometimes be a difficult affair; maintaining the quality of the album across a longer length, justifying the length for the listener, maintaining a logical flow over the full course. Somehow Moses Sumney accomplishes this, revolving the themes of isolation from Insula all the way to and so I come to isolation, while simultaneously building one of the most gorgeous albums one could imagine.
The most easy way I can orient myself to the two parts of this record is their juxtaposition in focus. Although both pieces are ever-present, the first leg of this record seems to be built out of the massive instrumentation and heavy layers of sound while the second leg of the record is more vocally-focused. Songs like Virile and Neither/Nor are gargantuan in their building instrumentation and full sound, whereas songs like Keep Me Alive and Lucky Me are so minimal in their arrangements that Sumney is allowed to carry the track alone with his one-of-a-kind voice. These tracks are just a few examples in which all the key features of the album have the opportunity to glisten.
Sumney plays with so many different artful and orchestral sounds across this record, yet is also able to scale back his massive sound and strip himself down to just his voice and the quiet hum of a guitar on a song like Keeps Me Alive. How Sumney is capable of blending so many sounds and still making the whole affair have pop sensibilities and mainstream appeal is beyond me.
Sumney, as he does on part 1, shines brighter than anything in this world when he's given the spotlight. Aromanticism proved that he was capable of making waves, but græ could be the moment when Sumney is capable of bending the tides to his own will. His voice is one of the largest in history, and the way that the music underneath serves as an additional spotlight of his powerful nature only underlines these strengths. His music is atmospheric and encompassing, fully enveloping the listener in everything going on track to track, forcing you to be isolated with nothing but the walls of sound surrounding you. It's both freeing and restricting at once, like the warmth of a hug that tightens around you but somehow makes you feel capable of breaking through anything following.
græ meets and exceeds all expectations in its full form. If Sumney wanted this to be a triple album I would be in for more - it's simply that good. It is his biggest musical statement up to this point, and Sumney is more than prepared to take that statement and ride those waves of momentum forward. In my view, he has the potential to be one of the most essential and moving musicians of this decade. Keep that spotlight on him and see just how much brighter he can be than nearly any other modern sounds.
Favorite track part 1: Neither/Nor
Favorite track part 2: Me in 20 Years