Ajay Mathur’s song “Forget About Yesterday,” from his critically acclaimed new extended play Little Boat, opens up in a tizzy of Eastern flavored sonic ribbonry before making way for a stellar guitar lick that wipes out the foreboding silence like a giant tidal wave meeting the shore. Mathur croons a string of lyrics that challenge us to focus a little more about where we’ve come from as opposed to where we might be going; an important message for a generation collectively suffering from historical short term memory loss. “Forget About Yesterday” is an excellent example of the existential consciousness of modern pop being realized through vivid tonality, and it’s only half the reason why I’m nominating Little Boatfor breakthrough album of 2018.
The second song featured on Little Boat is a pastoral rocker titled “My Wallet is a House of Cards,” which actually packs just as ferocious a rhythmic punch as its counterpart does. It’s no wonder why this record has been lighting up the charts recently, especially when you factor in the circumstances under which it was released. Right now pop has been enduring a lull in creative experimentalism, thus making an artist as eccentrically freewheeling as Ajay Mathur a breath of fresh air in an otherwise toxic musical landscape. His sound profile is fresh, original and delivered with a sublimely intimate production that allows us to hear every intricately composed element of his music. You can tell that he invested a lot of time into Little Boat, and his efforts have rendered a remarkably listenable affair.
Ajay Mathur has a habit of unraveling his material before our ears in a slow, almost plodding fashion. None of his music ever feels rushed or thrown together, not unlike a classical piece. Instruments don’t synchronize in his recordings, they merely attend to the gap that they’re instructed to fill while Mathur himself elegantly commands the tempo and mood of the song. There’s something to be said about an artist who doesn’t use expensive technological frills to create such a larger than life sound, particularly when you consider the fact that virtually no other artist playing on his level has been brave enough to do the same in at least a decade, if not longer.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; extended plays should always be a primer for a full length album, and Little Boat absolutely makes me want to hear another LP from Ajay Mathur in the very near future. Although this record is only comprised of two songs, both tracks are so majestically elaborate that one could only surmise that Mathur has plenty of material sitting in the tank just waiting to see the light of day. His unfolding body of work has never followed the same aesthetical path as what came before it, and from where I sit it would appear that he’s only getting better with age and experience. He’s got all the makings of a pop/rock superstar, and Little Boat might just be the recording that puts his name into the international mainstream where it belongs.
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