Artist: Dan Black Release: 'Un' Out: 13th July Buy: Amazon Quirk is in this year Every so often you get an artist that comes out of nowhere and brings something new to the table but fails to truly cement their talents by producing a solid and exciting album. Dan Black thankfully manages to defy this convention, avoiding the one hit wonder pitfall to produce a truly fresh feeling debut with all the effortless style of his French roots. Oozing with buckets of quirk and covering a range of styles ‘Un’ shows us that Mr Black has had his thinking beret on and has decided to take the pop genre in a much needed progressive step forward. Opening track and latest single ‘Symphonises’ is without a doubt one of the strongest on the album and really encompasses what Dan Black is all about, beautiful and gentle string riffs set to a slightly altered version of the drum machine noises of Rhianna’s ‘Umbrella’ all mixed together with Dan’s fragile yet passionate voice. As you progress through the album you realise that what makes it quite so distinctive to every other solo pop artist is Mr Black’s vocal style. You gain a real sense that he is embracing the weird qualities of his voice which helps the album to feel very natural rather than over manufactured and fake. When these odd tones are layered over deep synth riffs or the occasional interlude of beatbox and cowbell they gain even more force and really stand out and capture your attention. It’s by no means all about the vocals however as there are some real moments of sumptuous musical indulgence such as the heavy synth of ‘U + Me’. Even some of the more annoying sample effects can be overlooked (such as the overused grating electronic descending noise in ‘Alone’) as the accompanying riffs and deep heavy baselines do more than enough to distract us. This is by no means your standard pop record, it may be quirky, weird and a bit too out there for some, but if you give it a chance you’ll find yourself falling deep into the strange yet beautiful world that Dan Black is more than capable of creating. 8/10