Album Review: Waldemar – Ruthless

4/5

It’s always evident when an artist has been working on a project for a long time. Written with depth and sophistication, each song on this album feels as though every note is intentional. There is exploration and experimentation. Every song has its own unique feel and narrative but still has an integral place in the record’s whole story.

Waldemar’s debut album, Ruthless, is no exception to this. Written over five years, the record is a poetic and honest introspection of Larson’s own journeys. Ruthless is filled with sonic texture, eloquent lyricism, and noticeable intention. 

Waldemar is the musical project of singer-songwriter Gabe Larson joined by his brother Nick Larson, Colin Carey on the drums, John Roemhild on the bass, Jordan Coffland on the keys, and Josh Garcia on the guitar. A blend of alternative indie rock with a hint of folk, this album was all about building the right sound and telling the right story.

Ruthless is Waldemar’s first full-length release, an 11-track heartfelt, honest exploration of Larson’s long-awaited musical vision. Infused with various sounds and atmospheres, each song on this album takes on its own life and atmosphere.

“Ruthless,” the title track, is among the strongest across the album. The vocals on this song complete this track, highlighting the impassioned instrumentals with his voice and lyricism. This song is a true testament to the whole album’s vision and depth.

“Patience” takes on a more synth-pop life than the other tracks, showing the extent of Waldemar’s talent. This song shines, especially through Larson’s powerful lyricism: “When will I become a willful hardened sum?/ When wayward sons lose their father’s name/ Oh I’m too naked and unashamed/I’m running out of your patience/I’m using every part of your grace/I’m running out of your patience/ Abusing every part of your grace.”

“Waldemar” is an emotional homage to Larson’s grandfather— and the band’s namesake. It’s also one of the lyrically strongest songs on the album. Larson sings, “If I’m a carrier I drag it behind me / If I’m a victim I don’t want to know it / All I know is it’s hard to get out of bed/ And in the morning I lay and wonder if you’re the one to blame.”

The record ends on “Trust,” an 11-minute track that’s a slow, intimate jam— beginning with voice recording over four-and-a-half minutes of atmospheric tones. Painting such an intimate picture, Waldemar closes the album off on a high note.

The other tracks on this album are equally as strong, showcasing the intricate sounds and reflective lyricism that Waldemar built in this world on the record.

Larson took his time refining his vision for this album. No song felt rushed or superficial. The band took the time to bring each track to life in this record. Although this is only their first full-length release, we can all look forward to more records of this caliber from Waldemar.

Listen to the album here.

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