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It's probably been a while since anyone heard the name Aqualung, aka English singer-songwriter Matt Hales. The 43-year-old first emerged on the scene back in 2002 when Volkswagen used his single 'Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put A Spell On You)' for an artsy Beetle commercial, solidifying him as a UK charts success. The last time Aqualung was relevant to the mainstream media was probably in 2005 when 'Brighter Than Sunshine' was featured in the dramatic comedy A Lot like Love starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet. (Shoutouts to the scene when Avril Lavigne's 'Happy Ending' starts playing, what a killer soundtrack). After 2010, Hales announced his retirement, but here we are five years later with the sixth Aqualung album, 10 Futures.

The majority of songs on this album are collaborations with eclectic artists such as Lianne La Havas, Joel Compass, Luke Sital-Singh, Billy Pilgrim, Prides, Josef Salvat and Kina Grannis. Yet even with all these additional voices, Hales' rings the loudest. All 10 songs sample flavours of pop, folk, soul, R&B and electronic, providing listeners with a variety so there's something on the table for everyone. At first, it seems like Hales is doing too much too soon, especially since he's been off the grid for so long, but he really makes it work because nothing sounds the same. Hales accomplishes things that I never would have thought he was capable of. Additionally, he includes soundbites of real noises such as clapping, shouting, bells, birds, analogue, etc.

On this album, Aqualung has evolved from the slow burning piano ballads to innovative indie production. Of course, it wouldn't be Aqualung without that signature falsetto, which is where 'Be Beautiful', 'Seventeens' and 'To The Wonder' come in, the most reminiscent of the emotional Top 10 Aqualung we all knew so well. 10 Futures takes Aqualung from the depths of forgotten, one-hit-wonder music territory and brings him back to the surface.

Well done, Hales. Welcome back, Aqualung.

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