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When Buzz Aldrin made his first landmark steps onto the surface of the moon he remarked of the moment as 'beautiful desolation'; stunned by the space and distance, both physically and emotionally, from all those around him. The relevance of this remark clearly spoke volumes to Paul Thomas Saunders, naming his debut record after it - a debut which at it's core is about "All the colours, emotions and idiosyncrasies of the human condition."

Space is a constant theme across the LP's ten tracks (Saunders himself being a self-proclaimed astral enthusiast) and the 24-year-old songwriter confessed that he considered scientists in the Atacama desert listening to the music when he mapped out a vision of what this album should sound like. It's the passion and clarity of his concept for this record which led to such a cohesive album, littered with emotive imagery and metaphor used to stunning effect.

Opening with synthy-glitches and warm layers of bellowing reverb, 'Kawai Celestre', is a lush electro-pop anthem, fondly reminiscent of Jónsi's solo work. Thematically, this initial passage of this album has recurring themes of the breakdown of relationships, and the emotional clusterfuck that often follows ("did the last kiss cut you deep enough with so little lust"), which continues onto the piano balladry of lead-single, 'Good Women', and the darker, 'Appointment in Samarra'.

'Waking & Evening Prayer for Rosemary-Mai' is a hauntingly gorgeous track, and one made ever better by the ethereal tone of Saunders' vocal, which switches effortlessly between honest vulnerability and resounding triumph; delivering the choral line "follow my voice back home" with strength and empathy in equal measure. The album's pace is momentarily quickened on the upbeat orchestral, 'In High Heels Burn it Down', bursting forth with a new found sense of drive. As the track approaches the six-minute mark it slows, allowing a glacial tide of rich synths to take it to it's conclusion.

Beautiful Desolation's highest peak comes in the form of 'Starless State of the Moonless Barrow' - a confident and polished track, composed and un-flinching in its delivery. Its verse is an unusual mix of intricate Oriental musicianship which bookmarks a devastatingly brilliant chorus, erupting into huge, confident vocals, lush climactic bass and some of the finest lyrics to be found across the record ("you're the defining light, you're the relentless spark that keeps me holding onto yesterday's sunrise").

Paul Thomas Saunders is an artist who has shown great promise on his previous material to date, however, what he has produced on Beautiful Desolation is one of the finest debut records I have come across in quite some time. Hazily atmospheric and deeply moving, this is an album which will take you away from your deepest daemons, and place you exactly where you need to be.

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