Boomkat Product Review:
Peerless pop-not-slop artist Nathan Jenkins dons his Bullion bonnet for a uniquely gratifying 4th solo studio album, proper, nestling guest vox by Carly Rae Jepsen, Charlotte Adigéry, and Panda Bear in its pick ’n mix of exquisite confections, containing some of his most vulnerable songwriting and pitch-perfect, recombinant production ideas - RIYL Paddy McAloon, Scritti Politti, Junior Boys, Michel Turtle, Thomas Dolby, Godley & Creme.
Producer to some of this century’s most memorable, ohrwurming pop records, Bullion has been a hugely dependable fixture on the release schedule since 2007’s rude reconfigurations of the Beach Boys in a Dilla mode, persistently wowing with a slew of solo gems and productions for likes of Laura Groves, Avalon Emerson, Nilüfer Yanya, and Carly Rae Jepsen, who also appears here.
‘Affection’ sustains his immaculate run with a dozen top shelf tunes that glisten and glow on the surface, and gooey at heart, riffing on issues of intimacy, masculinity, and contemporary concerns with an effervescent levity that blesses all his work and beautifully buoys his songs here. We’re always at risk of writing hagiographic when it comes to Bullion, but seriously ‘Affection’ is made with holy pop ingredients and comfy as cashmere cardie - a surefire antidote to glumness that rewards with repeat listens.
Taking his cues from years living in Lisbon since 2018, and getting used to a newfound openness that came with starting a fresh slate, Bullion writes songs about how he felt on a return to London, wondering aloud about coming to terms with adolescent fears and a book of poems his Dad wrote as a young man, measuring himself in their relief with a tender pathos that encourages you to be mindful and accepting of flaws, rather than sweating the small stuff.
With effortlessly seductive, storytelling suss, songs glyde by with Bullion’s signature, aerodynamic gait from his duet on Lisbon with fellow resident Panda Bear in ‘A City’s Never’, to the Godly cremed title song, and a pure pop pearl in ‘Rare’ sprinkled with Carly Rae Jepsen magic. ‘Your Father’ is a gorgeous tribute to his pops, wreathing nostalgic reminiscence in feather touch FM synths and soft focus air, and ‘Cinch’ is the set’s sweetest groover, powered by slip-smacking bassline and an autotuned croon.
The chugging ‘World_train’ also stands out for its folk-rock charms akin to his take on the Blue Peter theme, accentuated by Charlotte Adigéry’s harmonised chorus, whilst ’40 Waves’ reserves his finest, skin-tingling studio sensitivities in its amniotic suspension of elements. Gentility, vulnerability, conveyed with unwavering faith in his thing.