It’s ironic that an album entitled World’s Strongest Man should show Gaz Coombes at his most vulnerable, but that’s precisely the point. Subverting expectations as both an artist and a man is a theme that runs throughout. It should then come as no surprise to hear that the album is said to be partly inspired by Frank Ocean’s Blonde - an album subverting an entire genre and redefining masculinity in a world where the bravado and braggadocio of “manhood” is sought to be proven at every turn. So, it’s here, on Coombes’ third album that he appears to have emerged from the chrysalis as the fully formed solo artist he was meant to be.
So many solo artist’s albums attempts at diversity come across as rough-hewn ideas thrown against a wall like undercooked pasta - hoping something, anything sticks. WSM is an confident, multi-faceted album that truly has something for everyone. Tracks like "Oxygen Mask" and "The Oaks" show a more self-assured, mature Coombes that could even be mistaken in parts for another fella from Oxford by the name of Thom Yorke. Coupled with the glorious swagger and groove driven contrast of tunes like "Wounded Egos" and "Deep Pockets" make it very clear that as an artist sometimes it’s not about finding any one particular safe niche, but embracing the diversity within one’s self and laying it bare for the world to see.
8.5 / 10
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