September 27, 2018 Tilian – The Skeptic (Album Review)
You likely know Tilian, that being Tilian Pearson, for his “day-job” singing with Dance Gavin Dance. For his third solo jaunt, The Skeptic, he goes big with electronics and dance-y feels to create something that’s uniquely his own, and it arrives on Friday, September 28, 2018, via those good folks at Rise Records.
Tilian Pearson is no stranger to recording and touring. With his first band, the Progressive Rock outfit Tides of Man, he released two albums – 2009’s Empire Theory and 2010’s Dreamhouse – and toured for several years before tapping out in late 2010. Joining up with the well-loved Dance Gavin Dance, Tilian would meld into the fold fluidly and go on to release four albums – ranging from 2013’s Acceptance Speech to 2018’s Artificial Selection – over the next five years, all while touring the world.
All throughout this time, he has maintained a solid solo career, working with others while steadily releasing a string of his own material. With two full-length studio offerings to his credit – 2013’s Material Me and 2015’s Perfect Enemy – it’s really no surprise that Tilian is back for round three. That is, The Skeptic, his 10-song, third full-length solo offering, which was produced by friend and long-time collaborator Kris Crummett (Dance Gavin Dance, Sleeping With Sirens). In fact, The Skeptic is a testament to Tilian and Crummett’s musical talents: with Tilian manning vocal, guitar, bass, and keyboard duties, while Crummett handled drums and percussion. Ultimately, this makes for a personal and reflective collection, one that sees Tilian questioning not just the intentions of the world around him, but his own, as well.
The Skeptic opens with glittering guitars and a steady drum beat that anchor “Made Of Plastic,” an Indie Pop frolic with has some deliciously catchy sonics that, at times, actually outweigh Tilian’s vocals. Which is fine – he gets plenty of time to shine elsewhere, like on first single/video “Cocky,” a wonderfully perky, get-up-and-dance sound which belies its underlying openly candid confessions. Similarly, there’s an EDM backbeat to “Gone,” allowing Tilian to continue his confessionals with an infectious, upbeat lilt.
The full band sound of “Handsome Garbage” takes Tilian in a more straight-up Indie direction, while there’s a gentle vulnerability to “Hold On,” which sees him leaning heavily on others for support. This frank side of the vocalist continues on “Blame It On Rock And Roll,” lamenting the ups and downs of Tilian’s career and playfully deflecting blame away from himself. The end result? It all sounds like an upbeat swing across a nostalgic dance floor.
There is a gentle island sway to the electronics of “Let Her Go.” Here, Tilian confesses that it has become too hard to gracefully remove a former lover from his heart and move onward with another. This flows perfectly into a wonderful percussion segment that bridges the gap into “Drunken Conversations,” a perfectly-layered confection of electronics and effects that creates a trippy vibe apropos of the track’s title. These synthetic sounds and beats carry into “Right Side,” where a sparkling joy permeates the layers of sound that see Tilian reaching some of his highest, most impressive vocal reaches. For album closer “Ghost Town,” he gets packing for an infectious, dance-able ode to being real. Life will never be fair, but the sincere will soldier onward!
Tilian’s truly distinct vocals provide the centerpiece for The Skeptic, where he explores the world around him – love, in particular – and has the ability to place a discerning spotlight onto himself, that is, lyrically speaking. There is love mourned and relationship foibles, confessions of admitted personal flaws, and quite a few drunken conversations, all amounting to a personal collection that provides fans a glimpse into the vocalist’s open heart and mind. With oft dance-able beats and an infectious quality to the superb sonics – which are impressively performed by Tilian and Crummett – there is no reason not to check out The Skeptic. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Tilian’s The Skeptic 4 of 5 stars.