Music Review: Tycho takes new direction on 'Weather'

Tycho, "Weather" (Mom + Pop/Ninja Tune)

California-artist Scott Hansen, better known as Tycho, is back with his fifth studio album "Weather," one that begins much as one might expect.

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Opener "Easy" is an instrumental, electronic track in the same vein as his previous work — atmospheric and upbeat. A woman's voice pushes through, but her words are indistinct.

By the second song, though, the deviation from past albums is clear. "Pink & Blue" opens with Saint Sinner's ethereal voice as she sings, "Oh pink and blue, yeah, you know I look good on you."

Hearing vocals comes as a surprise. Tycho's past work has been almost exclusively instrumental, falling on the brighter side of the down-tempo music spectrum. Samples of people speaking, such as a broadcaster giving a report, are used on albums like "Past Is Prologue," but never before has he been accompanied by a vocalist.

On "Weather," the vocal presence only gains strength as the songs continue, giving Hansen's work an entirely new feel. When Sinner is paired with the ambient sound of Hansen's usual electronic mixings, the album releases a tone that is reminiscent of The XX. Her voice is featured on six of the eight tracks, five of which have substantial lyrics — a big shift from Hansen's Grammy-nominated 2016 album, "Epoch."

The change is welcomed. The production value is uncompromised with Sinner's haunting vocals adding another layer to Hansen's unmistakable songwriting and genius production. Hansen, who transformed Tycho in 2014 when he added band members Zac Brown and Rory O'Connor, is showing once again that he's unafraid to tamper with his formula.

It's a fresh sound, one that shows Hansen's intent to weather the storm and keep his fans guessing where his music will take them next.

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