Genre: Electronic / Pop
Released: 19 January 2018
“And if I can only dream of up from down there
God, help me, I'll be gone
Have I lost sight of everything I've worked for?
Did I get this all wrong?”
In about a week Jonathan Ng, A.K.A EDEN’s second studio album No Future is set to release, so I thought I would take the time to revisit his debut from 2018, Vertigo since its always been an interesting album to me despite its many flaws. Listening to EDEN’s discography from his earliest work under the moniker “The Eden Project” until his latest releases shows how much he’s grown as an artist, but also how much more growing he has to do. Even listening to his most recent single Isohel off of No Future, which is one of his best songs of the last year, it is clear how much potential he has as both a songwriter and producer. Vertigo is by far the biggest leap he’s made as an artist so far, and the end product can be fairly rocky in places due to not all the risks paying off, but there are certainly many aspects of the album which demonstrate this potential starting to emerge.
Vertigo is by far Ng’s most accomplished work on a technical level. Although it lacks the coherence of some of his earlier more pop-oriented releases, the production here is incredibly impressive and by far the centrepiece of the album. Combinations of strings, drum beats, glitch, and various other electronic elements are used to create a sound that is unique, abstract, and for the most part extremely solid. Tracks such as start//end and forever//over are some of the most interesting and original sounding songs EDEN has released, and others such as love; not wrong (brave) incorporate the poppier aspects of his previous music without compromising the distinct style of Vertigo.
The main problems that Vertigo really suffers from are its pacing and length. It seems to meander and lack direction for much of its runtime, which is at the fault of both the structure of the track-listing, as well as the structure of some of the songs themselves. Although having a distinct climax isn’t always necessary, many of the songs here seem to build and build until slowly fizzling out without any payoff. This works in some songs and works against others, such as the final track Falling in Reverse which has one of the most promising setups in the entire album. While the final stretch of this track is quite beautiful and atmospheric, it does feel like the entire track has an integral piece missing from its middle. Because of this lack of dynamic contour, a lot of the songs seem to blur together, creating an album which is far messier than it needs to be. There are a few tracks which could easily be cut out in order to immediately make it a far more coherent experience, such as the track lost//found in the middle of the album which is by far the least interesting track, as well as Gold, which feels very out of place tonally. If this album had been cut down to the best 7 or 8 tracks, it would be a much more consistent display of Ng’s talent.
There are still some parts that really shine in Vertigo. The lyrics on the album are consistently great, and the instrumentals accompany them well. Icarus is an amazing track and one of the main times in which Ng does actually pull off a climactic moment. Wonder is a beautiful and understated moment, and love; not wrong (brave) is possibly the most consistent song on the whole album. There are actually so many great moments throughout the album, the only problem is that Vertigo doesn’t necessarily develop or expand enough on them.
“Cause I've been looking at the sky to show me where I went wrong
Been looking at the sky like someone was looking down
But it keeps raining on me”
Vertigo is a good, but sometimes frustrating album. At times, the talent behind the production of these songs really shows, but Vertigo’s overlong track-listing and meandering style acts as its detriment. As I said before, there is clearly so much potential here, its just a question of whether Ng is able to focus this potential to make a more concentrated album with No Future. In the meantime, Vertigo is definitely an interesting enough album to be worth giving a listen.
“And I hope you know you don't go alone”
Reviewed by Layton Bryce