08 March 2019 (released)
24 April 2019
Some records just have the feel of a certain time. There of course albums that feel like a season, a “summer” album and a “winter” album are completely different beasts. Then there are entire albums that feel like a time of day. There are sitting on the back porch on a Sunday evening albums, an overload of midnight Friday at the club records and even some that feel like 9 am Tuesday.
The latest release from London synth R&B artist Leon Seti has the feel of 4 am after a night out. As is referenced by the title, the album is ensconced in a cool blue hue. With the exception of one or two tracks, Cobalt is the soundtrack to those late night hours where your veins are still pumping some amount of whatever your particular intoxicant was that evening, your ears are still ringing and the only illumination is from the glow of the neon city lights out your window. Seti takes us into that chill space in which many of today's R&B artists revel however, he opts out of the punching bass and ratcheting buzzy anthem synths that eventually spoil the mood. Cobalt eases into its level and stays there, allowing it to create a hypnotic, encapsulating vibe.
The title track serves as the opener, slowly nudging the boat into the waters. Resonant dulled bells are punctuated subtly by a muted heartbeat kick. A curiously nebulous beginning to the album which could easily be the start of a fully instrumental ambient album. Seti's airy vocals make a warm entrance on 'South'. He paints a scene of overwhelming natural wonders and welcoming feelings. The ideal happy place for serotonin-boost sojourners. 'Silver Lining' continues this vibe, this time directing that energy towards a partner for the night with a catchy chorus hook.
'Sunflowers' is one of the few tracks that doesn't quite fall in line with the tone set by the rest of the album. The palette used is similar but Seti opts to focus on sunnier tones. The lighter cadence puts the George Michael influence more front and centre. The same ethereal synths back him up but the vocals take on a jubilant gospel feel. The rest of the album returns to its cool late-night chic with late album track 'Stripper' feeling like a muted version of Usher's 'DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love' if it were covered by Depeche Mode and the chorus stayed understated instead of kicking off into banger territory.
It's handy to have those albums in your pocket that are perfect for a time and a place. Cobalt is the perfect post-club chill hang vibes. Sleek and subtle far from the obnoxious clanging of the masses. This album is blue steel.