As frontman of London band Golden Silvers, Gwilym Gold overhauled the city’s live music scene, creating and curating a quarterly live music event dubbed ‘Bronze Club’. As a solo artist after the outfit’s dissolution, Gold created his first solo suite Tender Metal: a technology and listening experience so conceptual that every time a song was heard, it was structurally altered in some way. With his debut LP proper A Paradise, Gold moves away from the pop-kissed art rock awash with shimmering doo-wop harmonies of Golden Silvers, and settles into the astonishing conceptuality of his initial solo effort. The album suggests a more relaxed innovation, whose sparse, key-driven soundscapes align with an emotional and musical maturity.
Opener A Greener World combines wounded vocals, suspended strings, and cyclic keys to create a quiet fragility reminiscent of post-OK Computer Radiohead. Breathless then takes simple, jittering percussion, and layered vocal harmonies and transforms them into moments of tenderness, and an understated eeriness. His collaborative work with classical composer Nico Muhly is also beautifully sensitive. Mukly’s talent for haunting string orchestration and arrangements is particularly affecting in the surreal Uninvited. The track never humours those cheesy and anticipated orchestrated climaxes, but offers a very elegant subtlety often underappreciated in today’s classical and contemporary worlds.
These subtle nuances and sophisticated composition choices highlight any slight mood shift. Squirming beats flutter seemingly uncontrollably around silky piano and Gold’s honeyed voice in Triumph, a track that jumps straight out of the speakers because of its complementing extremes. The sensual groove and intoxicating harmonic structure of Unknown is also amplified by its simple, syncopated rhythm.
This musical dexterity and practiced sense of balance is typical of the whole album, creating restrained moments of suspense and release, which culminate in the glorious Flex. The track’s perpetual build never becomes overwhelming or requited, and instead I find myself never wanting its embrace to end – it was only the realisation the intermittent tonic drone wasn’t actually a part of the song but was a truck reversing down my street that pulled me from hypnosis. A Paradise is striking in this way, the same way an elegant woman is; it dazzles and electrifies with sophistication and subtleness.