Album Review: AM and Shawn Lee’s “Outlines”–Futuristic Soul Music

Ok, so these guys are cool.  Their sound is really great, but here’s the really neat them about AM and Shawn Lee—they don’t record together.  They just send the songs back and forth between LA and London until they’re perfect.  They have some amazing creative flow.  The sound is futuristic soul music.  I’ve been going to these soul music dance parties in Cleveland and this music wouldn’t feel out of place there if it was pressed onto 45’s. It’s not, but you can buy it on LP or cassette tape.

This music is heavily synthetic with a touch of earthy drums and dramatic vocals.  “Persuasion” starts off with some noises that remind me of a space ship.  It’s a groovy song about looking for answers and not letting the beat fade.  It can easily get stuck in your head, especially after you become familiar with the lyrics.

“Cold Tears” feels so very SoCal.  It reminds me of Laguna Beach.  Bass-y, oceanic, grassy, dry.  It’s a really beautiful song.  “Afterglow” starts off a bit slower and more dissonant but still just as poppy and energetic as the first few tracks.  I like the optimism that the vocals carry even though the lyrics are searching, introspective, and a little sad.  I also love the synthetic chimes and choral voices.  They sound really cool.  This might be my favorite track on this album.  I really love songs with lots of cool sounds in it.  That sounds cheap but this isn’t.  It’s like a cosmic mashup of science fiction and surf culture with chill lyrics.

The lyrics feature most prominently in “Wandering Eye”.  I love the back up vocals and the organic sounding beat pumping the song along.  “Nightshine” begins with thumping bass sounds and is joined by a roomy, quick melody and sexy, sassy, sad lyrics.  “Feel the hole in your life.” I love the the intro in “Heartbeat”

“Flashback” is a gorgeous song.  Dissonant cooing, laser noises, a soft, driving beat, earnest lyrics.  The sounds are so diverse but they fit together.  It reminds me of night hiking out west.  So many sounds to think over, wonder what that was, but they all fit together into a story.  If you’re only going to listen to one track on this album, this is the one.

You will enjoy “Outlines” if you like synthesizers, surf culture, outer space, David Bowie, science fiction, collaboration, drum kits, star gazing, Jeep rides, Wes Anderson films, or cliffs overlooking the ocean.  Every track is available as an instrumental version.  This album is a real work of art from two excellent musicians.  I hope you enjoy it..

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