What is Aromanticism? According to Moses Sumney and a recently-penned prose-poem, it’s a study of ‘lovelessness on a sonic dreamscape’. That’s one way of putting it. Sumney sets up his canvas with a pre-amble called Man on the Moon, instantly painting himself as inaccessible and aloof, away from the charms of textbook romantic love and all its vagaries.
And yet Aromanticism sounds like the work of someone who has very much been in love, whether that’s with a person, with himself, or just the life around him. Whatever it is, there’s no denying that a light emanates from deep within Moses Sumney, one that illuminates the world around him and touches us with subtlety that few can manage in such a short space of time.
Essentially, being so removed from the world allows Sumney to present the truest version of himself and leave it to us whether we accept it or not. Don’t Bother Calling is an initial push-away, but the way his falsetto rings, the way strings delicately fill the spaces between his yearning, reveal a heart that still beckons. Run the gauntlet, says Sumney, and look all you want. Being tactile is down to his discretion, but there’s no doubt his music will touch you.
Of course, there’s a notion that some of this could be seen as self-pitying or self-indulgent. “My wings are made of plastic,” he sings on Plastic, erring just on the right side of whimsy. There’s an old-world charm to his soundscape, the gently plucked acoustica or the resplendent (but sparingly-used) strings. It comes to a head on the utterly breathtaking Lonely World, which hurtles towards a spectacular and almost melodramatic climax of sound and feeling. It’s a moment that marked Sumney out as a pure talent when we first heard it, and it still remains the centrepiece of the album.
And what self-portrait is complete without flaws or contradiction. Make Out In My Car is Moses Sumney appealing to his more base instincts, yet somehow he still manages to make it sound like the most magical thing you ever did hear. Flute goes hand-in-hand with clicks like some sort of beguiling witchcraft, like a touch of his lips means the world has shifted slightly. That might sound a little bit exaggerated on our count, but Aromanticism is an album that deserves to be showered with special attention; wait for nightfall, close your eyes, and enjoy the most romantic love letter to the self you could possibly hear.