In any ordinary orbit of the sun, Græ would probably be my album of the year. As I said in my Louder Than War review upon its release in May, this is a sprawling, ambitious masterpiece. Released in two halves, Græ stretches across sixty five magnificent minutes that will enthral you.
The two-part thing, I guess, lines up with that definition of græ-ness; the concept that something can simultaneously have two meanings or be two things at once. Not binary, straight and gay, black and white. Græ. Of course, if you are coming to the album now, the split release thing need not bother you. It makes little difference in the listening. Many artists will have a different feel in the second half of an album to the first. However, the two parts of Græ do feel quite distinct and separate. Part one feels more assertive, more confident. On the other hand, part two is stripped bare and comes from a very insular, solitary place. The important thing to stress is that they dovetail perfectly and are equally brilliant.
Græ as an album that shimmers and it glistens. It’s a sprawling body of work that is adorned with a dazzling mishmash of crystal trinkets, all sparkling, yet as fragile as fine china. It is littered with ephemeral gewgaws and exotic objet d’arts. It shines and it dazzles, it screams and it whispers.
Of course, the primary thing with Sumney is the voice. It is like no other. My God, that magnificent falsetto has no equal and it is showcased wonderfully on Græ, particularly on the tracks Cut Me and Lucky Me. Additionally, we have some fantastic collaborations with the likes of James Blake, Shabaka Hutchings and Thundercat. Indeed, the album’s stand out track is that collaboration with Thundercat. Virile is one of my songs of the year, swaggering confidently to a military beat and soaring celestially. It is uplifting and energising.
One final thing to call out about Græ. It might not be the album of the year (although it came close), but it does win the award for cover art of the year. I’m a packaging geek, a sucker for great design, attention to detail and quality. Græ’s packaging brings all of that and more. Hats off to Sumney and his label, Jagjaguwar, for recognising that things like that matter.
Græ is almost, but not quite, my album of the year. It is topped by two others. You will have to wait to find out what they are.