REVIEW – EDEN – i think you think too much of me
(Released August 19, 2016)
EDEN, formerly known as The Eden Project, is the performing alias of Irish producer and singer-songwriter Jonathon Ng. Under the title of The Eden Project, Ng focused primarily on the production of EDM tracks, specifically dubstep and electro-house, but gradually began to show his talents for lyricism and arrangement and made more use of his amazing voice. With the name change in 2015, EDEN pulled the focus away from dance-oriented tracks into the realm of indie pop-rock, while still retaining the liberal use of electronic sound design. His music incorporated more organic instrumentation layered over ambient soundscapes reminiscent of a band like M83, and he forced much more of the listener's concentration on his lyrics and vocal arrangements.
i think you think too much of me is the second EP released by EDEN, the first being 2015's End Credits EP. Ng makes it clear from the first instant of this project that he's moving even further from his strictly electronic roots, starting off the opening track “sex” with a thumping drum beat (from an actual, irl drum kit) and huge sustained piano chords. It's pure indie pop that would find itself in good company with the likes of Bastille or Walk The Moon.
That first track just lies on one end of the wide spectrum this album provides, however. The other end of the spectrum comes immediately after with the track “drugs.” In stark contrast to the opener, this song is brooding and chaotic with heavy electronic synths. Somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, or maybe on a different spectrum entirely, lies the second half of side A, “and” and “rock + roll.” “and” is almost more experimental and sparsely produced, while “rock + roll” shows some heavy influences from classic rock and R&B.
Side B is a bit of an oddity, as it contains three remastered versions of songs Ng penned as The Eden Project. These versions are better than their original releases, with rising star Gnash even filling in on the previously instrumental-only second verse of “Fumes,” but they seem a bit tacked-on in an attempt to extend the album's run time. Since End Credits EP featured nothing but original songs (7 in total), it's a bit of a disappointment that we only get 4 originals from EDEN this time around.
Where this EP really shines is in its lyrics. All of the songs, even the 3 on side B, are incredibly focused on that aspect, which Ng must now realize is one of his greatest strengths as an artist. The songs are all lyrically-dense and brutally honest. You could pull pretty much any single line out of any one of these tracks and see its depth, even out of context (and it gets even deeper when you add the context back in). “sex” and “XO” are similar in that they're almost anti-love songs. In both, EDEN presents himself as the member of a relationship who isn't really putting in the effort to keep it strong, and the two songs almost offer a different perspective about how that starting point may evolve. “rock + roll” and “Circles” are my favorite offerings lyrically, as they dive deep on introspection about how to navigate life and live up to expectations.
The production is immaculate on every track, although Ng seems to enjoy adding distortion to his voice in sections where he's shouting. This can get a little heavy-handed to the point where you can't tell what he's singing, which is a shame since those parts are often the most emotionally intense. And even though each track sounds fantastic, there's little to no thematic glue holding them together. Other than the sequential titles, side A may as well be a collection of singles much like side B. This is especially disappointing because End Credits EP was incredibly well constructed as a whole, with excellent transitions between tracks and recurring lyrical and instrumental themes.
If you've never listened to any post-EDM, “indie electronic” music, then EDEN is definitely a fantastic starting point. The two EPs he's put out under this project name are absolutely at the top of their class. Even if ityttmom doesn't quite live up to it's predecessor (which is available for free download, so there's really no excuse), it's laudable in that it shows EDEN stepping even further away from the comfort zone of EDM and demonstrates to a listener better than ever who he truly is as an artist.
Favorite tracks: rock + roll, Circles, drugs
Least favorite: none
Score: 4/5 stars - Excellent