Moses Sumney has made a point through his work of being the epitome of a melodramatic generation. Sumney grapples with a multitude of social and personal issues through his music and his new studio double album, Grae, is no different, exhibiting an elevation of his usual style. The self-proclaimed ‘genreless’ artist showcases echoes of soul, art-rock and synth-pop in this new release. Grae: Part 1 was released late February, with Grae: Part 2 set to follow in May. Throughout his career, he has expressed a distaste towards contemporary culture and actively rejects binaries. This is articulated through his music.
Conveyor is Sumney’s manifesto, an anthem conveying his discontent with the music industry and possibly extending to reflect his perspective on modern society. Found on Part 1, the instrumental component utilises some very unusual musical elements, layering ethereal synth tones and jarring, guttural percussion into a pulsating whole. It is folded together into a blissful and raw orchestration. As the instrumental elements of the song surge, Sumney’s gorgeous voice is sovereign, piercing through the chaos.
Although the lyrical component on this track lacks some of the complexity and emotion of his other songs, the message is still powerful and overwhelming. Allegories drawing comparisons between human nature and the autonomy of insect colonies artfully illustrate Sumney’s bleak perspective on humanity.
On the standout single Me in 20 Years, his first release from the upcoming Part 2, Sumney is all drama. For so long, romantic love has been viewed as such an important element of maturation and self-actualisation, as an identifier. In his past work, such as debut album Aromanticism (2017) he has struggled with this concept, covering a range of themes like love and identity through his music. His new release continues to test boundaries and assumptions about love and genre.
Me in 20 Years is a memoir of Sumney’s seemingly bleak romantic history. As he reminisces about past trysts or lost relationships, the reoccurring motif of a pit, a cavity, and of something missing is inferred. This sense of loss and confusion is enhanced by the haunting, feathery falsetto that he is so well known for. His voice is extremely affectional, beautifully complimenting the complex, trance-like instrumental elements of the song. These aspects dissolve together to create a sort of melancholic symphony that exemplifies Sumney’s vocal and compositional talent.
Moses Sumney truly is a master of his craft.