There is an antidote to Tom Vek‘s latest album: Take a melodic idea, loop it up, and then really mess with it. It’s been three years since Vek’s last album Leisure Seizure, and with his third effort Luck he has returned sounding as experimental as ever.
On first listen, Luck seems incredibly disjointed, but after the second or third listen, it starts to slot into place, and the discordant arrangements and entangled melodies start to make sense. It is no easy listen, but over time, and with continued familiarity with the record, the urgent and erratic nature of the album comes to life and real joy can be found in Vek’s unconventional and fragmented ways.
The album opens speculatively with How Am I Meant To Know. It slowly creeps in, with the repetitive resounds of the title question, and a jangling guitar comes in, whilst Vek preaches in his monotone drawl over the top as the layers build and the track bursts into a massive spasm of fitful energy. It’s nothing short of a spectacular opening to the album and really sets the benchmark for what is to come.
It’s followed by leading single Sherman (Animals In The Jungle). It jangles around instances Vek’s deadpan delivery that fights against a juxtaposing groove that roots the track. It is one of the album’s more approachable tracks. Broke is another song that works on the same premise as most of the album, with an opening melodic pattern that repeats throughout the song and cements it in place, working very much as an ostinato. The track also reveals some more of Vek’s multi-genre influences, as the largely electronic sounds that work above the repeating pattern sound very much influenced by classical Asian and oriental music, whizzing up and down the scales. It’s very cleverly structured, and it works.
It is Vek’s continued ability to stick together different ideas and make them add up to a whole that shines through. In many cases it sounds as though he picked out one or two pieces from different puzzles and then pushed them together to create something entirely different. The best example of this is with Ton Of Bricks, with its erratic drum beat interweaving with a ton of different melodies, all whilst repeatedly changing the time signature, and despite all these complexities it still sounds like a delightfully unconventional pop song.
The album is brought together with The Tongue Avoids The Teeth and Let’s Pray, which see things get ever more technical. The Tongue Avoids The Teeth proves a techno treat, as the synths get deeper and darker and the energetic drum beat brings the whole thing into a different realm. Let’s Pray carries this darker streak, and leaves the listener feeling slightly uncomfortable as Vek cynically proclaims “Let’s pray to all of the Gods/ Let’s pray they all have a point/ Let’s pray that one of them is real/ Let’s pray they’re not offendable.” With that, Vek finishes the album by challenging whoever will listen. It’s a challenge worth taking on.