Reminder to everyone, including us: next time anyone says male-driven pop – electronic or otherwise – is dead, point them in the direction of Thomston. The New Zealand wonderkid has been precisely that: rising from the strength of tracks and EPs, delivering high quality vibes when he’s barely navigated his teens.
To bring up Thomston’s age feels like a disservice to Topograph though. Not a single aspect of it, not its content nor even the title (ok, maybe the title is a bit GCSE Geography) suffers from any sort of misplaced confidence or folly of youth. Songs like Float are constructed with an empathetic slate of delicateness, while Rocketfuel delivers a delightfully odd mix of both the vulnerability of a new crush and a confident assertion of that fact.
Needless to say, young Tommo’s running rings around his peers already, and doing so with an incredible amount of self-awareness. “I want you where I want you but I don’t even want you to stay/ Would you hate me if I sent you away?/ Would you call me if my mind began to change?” he sings on Headspace, trying to come to terms with an honesty that, to be fair, we wish a lot of teenage boys had shown us back in the day. Good for you, lad.
The mood is generally this sort of melancholic, both in vocal tone and sound. Thomston is by turns apologetic (“don’t wanna love you just ‘cos I’m lonely,” he sings on Broken Skin (Outlines)), darkly sensual, and occasionally even a little bit heartbroken. But his moods are reflective of that wonderful thing we miss these days, especially with male-driven pop acts: Topograph, like its title implies, goes beyond a surface examination of personality, delivering a cross-section of both a rounded individual and a hugely exciting performer.