Consecutive to the release of a few subsequent singles following his 2020 album Blind Eye, Carey Clayton updates his discography with the release of his new full-length album — gradually, suddenly. Clayton carries forward his customary styles onto his new album, collecting his inclinations towards electronic pop, folktronica, indie folk and pop into an immersive thirty-three-minute experience. The album is divided into ten tracks with their own thematic backdrops, where Clayton outdoes his earlier musical work as he appears more drawn and confident in his songwriting, composition and in the creation of a beautiful collection of songs.
The album — gradually, suddenly — is for all purposes, a creation out of adversity or heartbreak and represents a conceptual undertone that haunts each of its tracks. The album leads off with not of plastic in an electronica crunch accompanied by determined percussive elements and distorted electric guitars. Highlighting his discography’s descriptions, Carey Clayton’s appreciation and fondness towards the dance/electronic genre stalwarts such as Thom Yorke is explicated through his vocals, which has the potential of dragging someone’s soul down into the ground to get a taste of the adversity of the tortured artist.
The tracks underfoot and slowing down present themselves with a sense of dystopic finality — almost a track for the end of the world — is characterised by its attractive stereo soundscapes assisted by the acoustic guitar arpeggios, mid-range equalized vocals and reverbed percussion. The signature electronic riff that shows itself in breaks between the lyrics of the track defines the number, giving it the uniqueness to stand out from the rest of the tracks in the album. Acoustic and electronica make good unity in thought of you, where Carey Clayton strings together heartfelt and melancholic lyricism about the loss of a significant subject in the artist’s life, the days lost and the impermeability of making it through the days of the future. Clayton asks — ‘If I hold on to the thought of you, will it make you stay?’ in impassioned tones, making it a track that warrants the dysphoric pleasure of listening to it.
Tracks such as give it all away and debris highlight Clayton’s attention-to-detail in weaving an electronic pop number, replete with synth waves that wash across the number, tape delays and equalized vocals — this makes the track similar to some of the earlier work of groups such as The 1975. The truly enjoyable part about Clayton’s music is the addition of electronic pinpricks, minor riffs and inputs that are scattered across the tracks where you would least expect them to be, which gives the track a fuller sense of detail with all the things that occur across the arrangement.
At the same time, the influence of folktronica and indie-folk on Carey Clayton is also highlighted with tracks like upstream, a relatively moodier number with flute-like instrumentation and mellow electronic arpeggios. Later numbers in the album such as correspondence and how does it help feature the use of the piano (former) and almost-Gregorian chants with its solo voice, long melody lines and modal harmonies — which makes it sound very much like a Jesper Kyd track. The electronic crunch introduced the curtain track everywhere i go, where Clayton sings a balladic two-minute dream-like narrative in baritone harmonies aided by acoustic triads and a dystopic crescendo into static chaos.