You would think that after speculating, appraising and describing Foreign Republic’s previous EP release “Break Your Fall” as tasteful, sophisticated and detailed pop music that we would run out of things to say about Matthew Smith aka Foreign Republic, a 20 year old artist who resides in New Jersey. But most albums by new artists, are not like his latest release ‘Wonder’. To start with the album incorporates the 5 songs from the EP, which immediately gives it a solid base and starting. Secondly, the songs are co-produced and mixed, by Matthew’s friend Aidan Swift, which provides another certified guarantee for what to expect quality-wise. Where some good albums simply get in your head, this gets actively under your skin, both musically and lyrically.
The music achieves something special – a feel of warm intimacy with huge, sweeping sounds containing warm pads, scintillating keys, skittering hi-hats and sweeping melodies, underscored by broiling basslines. This is the exact sound employed by the album opener “Break Your Fall”, which is followed by the slower burning rumble of “System”. Both tracks also appeared on the previously released, and critically acclaimed EP, ‘Break Your Fall’.
“20 Years Old” switches the template to a catchy and sunny tropical rhythm. “I’m 20 years old and I don’t drive. I’m doing things on my own time. I didn’t go to college but can we acknowledge that I turned out alright,” exclaims Matthew, sounding comfortable and confident in the process.
This leads into the darker and brooding “Borderline” which expands into a slapping beat and memorable chorus. It seems that the more urgent the vocals, the more beautiful and buoyant is the effect spreading through the listener.
“Attention” draws on classic upbeat synth-wave flavors, before we encounter the title track, “Wonder”, where lyrically and vocally, Matthew Smith aka Foreign Republic, is quite simply mesmerizing over the mid-tempo beat.
This is followed by the standout “Let’s Go”, which summons all of Matthew’s lyrical prowess on relationship issues. Over and above the warm and resonant keys, “Vibrancy” employs the use of saxophone interludes, which adds an alluring earthiness to the track.
The lush pads and Matthew’s mellifluous vocals drive the gorgeous arrangement of “Who We Were”, which is one of the most endearing tracks on the album. It also makes a superb back-to-back pairing with “At Arms Length”, which examines the effects, and the mechanics, of communication within a relationship.
As usual, Matthew’s voice dominates another captivating production. The thumping “Foresight” closes the 11-track show, on a high note, musically. Dynamic percussion, thickly layered keys, and lavishly stylized vocals make this another gem.
The album ‘Wonder’ is pastel-tinged on a Technicolor scale, with the music frequently being a great counterpoint to the lyrics. Matthew Smith aka Foreign Republic’s near masterful songwriting, features melodies that will stick with you for days.
‘Wonder’ possesses an epic beauty that never loses its intimacy. The juxtaposition of the profound charm of the music, with the honest fleshiness of the lyrics, and the lure of the vocals, is what ultimately defines this album.
Connect with Foreign Republic on SPOTIFY and INSTAGRAM@foreignrepublicofficial