Following his global success with debut Tremors, electronic and alternative R’n’B artist SOHN returns with his second full-length Rennen through prestigious indie label 4AD.
Opener Hard Liquor pulses with industrial synths and a gritty sub bass, while gospel choir pads the soulful Justin Timberlake-style vocals. The different styles merge nicely with heavy beats and experimental textures, which converge with warped blues melodies. Lead single Conrad also relies on synths to create a vivid musical backdrop – this time channelling ’80s power ballad synths under the catchy refrain, “I can feel it coming, we can never go back”. The hook repeats throughout, making it SOHN’s most radio-friendly song to date.
Well-crafted beats and synth lines peak at perfect moments throughout, and are intoxicating. Signal and Falling accomplish this and are standout tracks, but the album also shows a far more emotive side to SOHN, most notably in the title track and Primary. Both feature mournful and thought-provoking lyrics over sombre piano chords, drawing comparisons to Bon Iver.
There is also a prominent nature theme that runs throughout the album, particularly water. Dead Wrong builds a beat from samples of dripping sounds before electronic intricacies and R’n’B vocals elevate the song, and closer Harbour reverberates with whirring synths creating the atmosphere of waves. Proof and Still Waters, however, come across as slightly self-indulgent and repetitive due to their minimal structure.
Rennen shows clear progression and great dynamic control from SOHN, but the album falls just short of becoming a modern classic.