The “solo” project of songwriter/producer Gareth Thomas, [debut] is more of a musical collective showcases Thomas’ collaborations with a revolving door of impressive artists. Postcards from Berlin is the project’s first full-length album and, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, was recorded in Hansa Mestersaal and UFO Sound Studios in Berlin. Tapping into a somber synthpop sound, much like a more gothic tinged Depeche Mode, Postcards from Berlin is quite an emotional journey.
The mood and direction of the album is readily apparent from the opening track, “Not the One,” with its deep mellow rhythms punctuated by subtle piano chords and Thomas’ soothing and warm vocals that eventually give way to chaotic synth hooks to proclaim the album’s title. With “More Than This” and “Low,” Thomas continues to employ some astoundingly heartbreaking lyrical work that, when coupled with the stirring piano and stringed arrangements, further wraps the listener in a quilted blanket of sorrow and self-loathing. With “Want” and “Come Around,” Thomas takes a backseat to a female vocalist, offering a more sultry brand of sorrow that wisely breaks things up, but remains solidly cohesive with the overall tone of the album. “Everyday I Love You More” is probably the simplest and most straightforward track on the album, but it is mostly set up as a stage to showcase the vocal and lyrical talent on display, but the track still comes up a little short when compared to other material on the album.
Postcards from Berlin is immaculately constructed and superbly performed, wonderfully mixing analog and digital instruments, and features some truly stirring vocal work from Thomas and his guests. The only real weakness of the album lies in the wall-to-wall bleakness becoming a bit desensitizing in the later tracks of the album, leading to tracks blending together a bit. Overall though, this is a minor quibble with an otherwise outstanding album that is sure to evoke some strong emotions in its listeners.