First off, let me start off by saying that I was somewhat nervous about writing this review. Being a pop musician, I felt that I potentially didn't possess the necessary qualifications to review an electronic/hip hop album, and that I may get the, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” “You suck,” “Go home,” treatment. Aware of this, I decided, “Fuck it…” I’m going to do it anyway.
Hailing from across the ditch in Perth, Australia, Ta-ku has just released his second album, Songs to Make Up to, mirroring his 2013 release, Songs to Break Up to. His skillset extends far beyond beat-making, however, evident in his co-creation of #TEAMCOZY, the sneaker related hashtag which took Instagram by storm, and his ownership of the infamous Weston Barbershop in Perth.
I’m going to break this down track by track, to make it nice and easy to digest, so you can spend less time reading this, and more time ordering your flat white. Why? Because if I were you, that’s what I would be doing.
I want to start by mentioning the cover artwork. I’m not sure about you, but how an album is presented visually often has a large impact on how I feel about it overall, and it’s always a shame when a great album has really sub-par artwork. Thankfully, the art for Songs to Make Up to is a perfect representation of not only the album itself, but Ta-ku as a person. Clean, minimalistic, mysterious, but also visually pleasing, thought provoking and not too much, not too little. Just right, in terms of what we want to see when we click our iPhone button to check the time when to jamming to Ta-ku’s tunes. Artwork aside, let's get into the album:
1. Hopeful: An emotion-provoking and somewhat sombre entrance into the album, with a slow paced, beautifully written piano piece opening up the tracklist. It is undertoned with a subtle sense of warmth, as if you were saying to your significant other after some turbulent times together, that everything is going to be okay, which is essentially what the album projects. After the first minute and a half, the piano turns into some more attention demanding strings and leaves the listener at the ready for what happens next, which so happens to be the entrance of the Ta-ku we all know and love: a steady and easy-listening beat accompanied by a more synthesised version of the piano the song began with, which leads all the way into the second song. A perfect start into the record, and a great indicator of what the rest of the album will sound like.
2. Love Again (feat. JMSN & Sango): An uplifting and positive song, this one again begins with piano, but with more upbeat style than the opening of ‘Hopeful’. Ta-ku doesn’t muck around though, entering JMSN’s stunning vocal hook, “Give It Time, You’ll be Fine’, which is in essence what the whole album is about. The song has incredible vocal layering and contrasting, with subtle but solid background beats presented by our homie on the decks from Aussie. The song rings out toward what we think is a close, but then comes back in with the original piano line on top of a much darker and aggressive beat. This contrast was an amazing show of Ta-ku’s skill, and the sweet finish to this track made me decide that it was my favourite song from the album.
3. Trust Me: Ditching the piano for this one, a typical down-tempo and ambient beat open the track, leaving the listener with no clue where the song will head. The song slowly builds upon this beat as it goes on, with layers of synths and different drum components being added in, but relatively staying along the same lines throughout the whole song. My guess was, this song acted as somewhat of an interlude in the album, which is odd considering how early on it is placed.
4. Long Time No See (feat. Atu): Another one of my favourites from the album, a really funky and typical track from Ta-ku, probably the best representation of him as an artist, and a song to show to your mate if they asked, “What does he sound like?” Really, really good. Nothing else needs to be said.
5. Sunrise / Beautiful (feat. Jordan Rakei): I know I keep saying this but this is another one of my favourites from the album (which must say something about the album). Really ‘vibey’ beat and synth line (I don’t really know how else to put it), and a really good chill out song. Similar to Love Again, once the main section of the song concludes, a raw and aggressive bass heavy beat comes back in, showing the diverse range Ta-ku has. Love it.
6. Fall4You (feat. Sunni Colón): Probably the ‘fastest’ song from the album, from an album of extremely slow and chilled out songs. Great vocal line, and I deemed this the ‘driving’ song. Really consistent and rhythmic flow in the beat section, and a damn fine vocal line by Sunni Colón over the top.
7. Work In Progress: A perfect close to the album, in the same fashion that it started. This song has no beats, very minimal vocals, just a piano. But the piano speaks. The way the harmonious piano chords are laid out almost says “I’m not perfect, but I’m still trying”, which is something that could be said fro the best of us. Perfect close, a very satisfying finish.
It’s not a great album if you’re about to hit the bench press, but if you’re ready to chill out with some mates or a special someone, or drive down the highway getting all emotional and thinking about out entire lives in the space of 20 minutes (we all do it), then this should very soon feature in your recently added. I’ve never really been into music like this, but I really dig this album: it’s fresh, unique and passionate, which can’t be said for everything produced in the music industry these days.