Legacy Road Trip
It can seem unfair to attach legacy expectations to breakout artists, but it’s often impossible– and in Morgan Visconti’s case, it’s not even inappropriate. Ride is an album that lives up to its reckoning in all possible ways. The son of legendary producer Tony Visconti and singer Mary Hopkin has gargantuan shoes to fill, and he proves with aplomb that he is not only up to the task, but it seems practically effortless for him.
Ride is a work of pitch-perfect synth-pop, the likes of which are hard to come by in a musical landscape filled with artists trying to occupy the same space. On the album’s leading single, “Can’t Say Goodbye,” Visconti achieves a similar melodically perfect nostalgia to that which Daft Punk and Julian Casablancas reached with last year’s “Instant Crush,” which is no small feat itself. It’s a curious feeling. You can’t pinpoint exactly what you’re hearkening back to, but it hits like the smell of mom’s home cooking.
The young Visconti’s years of composing and producing experience show clearer than crystal. On “When I Was Young,” he combines renaissance strings with a kind of futuristic anti-tune, distorting vocals in the opposite direction that most of today’s pop artists would choose. Combined with a lyrical clarity, depth and simplicity (“When I was young, all I ever wanted to be was you”), Visconti shows an honesty and maturity that is warm in its rarity and beautiful in its execution.
While some veteran producers and composers lose sight of personal expression in the complexity of their craft, Visconti stands among the best, letting his personality shine through his work. “Low,” perhaps an homage to his father’s work with David Bowie, pushes out a minimalist melody that not only shows how less can be more — it actually turns less into more. Followed up with “Always On Time,” the artist brings back a new wave charm that many others try to replicate, but fail to even imitate.
Throughout history, gourmets of the arts have described a certain “Je ne sais quoi,” or put less eloquently, “it.” Whatever “it” may be, Morgan Visconti has it in spades, and Ride is hopefully only the beginning of an extended course in the potential of pop music musicianship.