Pursuing a concept album is a lofty endeavor for any artist, and certainly for one making their full-length debut. Nonetheless, Australian artist SonOfHarry succeeds thoroughly with precisely that, in the form of his album The World Has Gone Mad, out on December 8th. Commentary on the world’s deteriorating collective psyche combines with an outer space setting, as one bears witness to raging tumult alongside aesthetical explorations ranging from moody synths to pop-rock charisma.
Gentle piano and spacey frequencies dazzle on the opening track, setting an atmospheric stage into the subsequent title track. There, piano pulses and bird-chirping continues the spacious elegance, as the vocals witness watching the “world burn on its own.” A spectator from space, observing the happenings below on planet earth, sets the thematic engrossment in motion. An emotive vocal rise coincides with cinematic strings. “Soon you’ll find out that the world has gone mad,” they continue into an audible tumult. The introduction’s instrumental intrigue and the ensuing track’s thematic grip makes for a heady, riveting one-two punch to open the album.
The climactic liftoff sequence on “Paradise, Pt 1” furthers the space-set enigma, though quickly traversing into an accessible pop-rock fervency as vocals escalate and ask: “When will you pay the price? Welcome to our paradise.” Following two largely atmospheric showcases, “Paradise, Pt 1” firmly showcases the artist’s accessible pop smarts, even as its time is brief. Its second part also dazzles, infusing tender guitar twangs alongside a spacious atmospheric appeal, with the “say goodbye to paradise,” vocal meshing well within the album’s themes of departure.
“The World Has Gone Mad, Pt 2” kicks into gear quickly thereafter, injecting a soulful vocal charisma into the accessible production. “I seem to be the only one who sees the truth,” the vocals let out, ruminating on the world’s seemingly perpetual state of chaos. The world has seemingly gone mad, indeed, and the album implores listeners to heed closer attention to societal strife.
While some tracks strut a vibrant immediacy, others showcase SonOfHarry’s tactful, evolving knack for soundscapes. “Moments Of Beauty” is such an example, traversing from nature-set guitar lushness into a soulful vocal vibrancy, which celebrate the fleeting moments of beauty “all around me, passing through me.” The sweltering vocal invigoration combines with twangy guitar delights for an effort that sounds like a reprieve in the midst of a storm, set aptly at the album’s mid-point.
Themes of escapism and disconnect resonate on “Alien,” which captivates in its rise from piano-set balladry into a rousing, soulful vocal punch with string-propelled momentum. The otherworldly soundscape is provided some brevity with the charismatic “Can Not Be This Way,” exuding a soulful, jazzy energy into the atmospheric vigor of “Fall” and evolving finale “The World Has Gone Mad, Pt 3.” “I wish you the best in life,” the artist’s vocal outpouring resonates there, concluding the thematic fervor — portraying the world’s seeming descent into insanity — with impassioned, melodic stirring.