If you have ever wondered what music a law student finishing their studies abroad would make, the Australian born and London based Josef Salvat may have the answer for you. Salvat has proved to be a dab hand at electro-pop since taking an audio engineering course while studying for the final year of his degree in Barcelona, and Night Swim proves to be a solid debut album.
Night Swim is an album that is clearly concerned with relationships. In fact, it has the distinct feel of a breakup album with the songs documenting the emotional turmoil, maladaptive coping, and tumultuous recovery process that follows the dissolution of a romantic entanglement. Despite this clear theme, Night Swim lacks an ineffable coherence that would mark it as a concept album. But perhaps this isn’t a bad thing, concept albums are fraught with dangers for the artists who create them, from alienating the audience through to displaying that the artist simply doesn’t have the chops to pull it off.
Salvat has said “I do think that restraint is underrated in pop, and my natural tendency is to go over the top, every time. So that’s another battle. Which I clearly enjoy, I guess.” The fact is that Salvat switches between minimalist and bombastic modes to equally satisfying effect which is something that established artists, with multiple records under their belts, can struggle with and hopefully this foretells an illustrious career ahead for the 27 year old.
While each song on Night Swim is unique in its own way, Salvat draws upon a relatively small selection of sonic elements which means that by the end of the album the listener’s attention starts to wane. Couple this with a lyrical approach to subject matter which fails to show emotional progression and you start to see where Salvat’s weaknesses as an artist may lie. Night Swim is a commendable debut album, and Salvat shows a great aptitude as a songwriter, one can only hope that he builds upon the promise shown here as he matures as an artist.