Nominated for the 2007 Australian Music Prize for his debut album ‘Join the Dots,’ Melbourne’s Tobias Cummings has put out ‘A Trophy,’ his second and most vibrant release.
It’s almost odd how a relative unknown like Tobias Cummings can exist as such despite being so universally applauded. With glowing reviews for his last record coming in from publications as reputed as Rolling Stone and award nominations as coveted as the Australian Music Prize shaping his halo, it’s just another music industry head scratcher. With ‘A Trophy,’ the second release by Melbourne’s Tobias Cummings, he places himself in lauded obscurity yet again, swinging from harrowed atmospheres to bright whimsy; coming and going like trucks passing in the dark. It’s not inaccessible, but it’s not the type of music that sucks anyone into the charts, which, for the purposes of the record, is a good thing.
Cummings seems comfortable in whatever territory he ventures into, whether it’s the rollicking chorus of Exegesis or the fever dream haze of album closer A Golden Dream. He succeeds in the pop-driven moments as much as he does as a haunted storyteller, resulting in a cohesively poignant record. He sings darkly about drunken female encounters, brightly about whittled philosophies and muses about strange, seemingly irrelevant characters. On the delicately swooning Red Wheelbarrow, Cummings questions the psyche of the angry and hostile, questioning their outbursts; ‘after all you have seen / and all you have done / is this what you have to say?’ Meanwhile, the upbeat pop sheen of Exegesis runs through strange couplets of lust and late night endeavors, claiming of two lovers that ‘we’re the apotheosis of respectability as we sit here fucking each other’s eyes.’ Cummings has an admirable eloquence in these moments, although the themes in many of the tracks seem to be in opposition to the tune he’s wrapped around them…but then again, they’re all such convoluted and evolving stories that a misread is all but ensured.
While ‘A Trophy’ isn’t an album that will ever be well-known nor break through as a cult favourite, it’s a fulfilling record that’s technically rounded and gorgeous in its delivery. ‘A Trophy’ is more than just a title for Tobias Cummings; it’s indicative of the triumph that this record represents. It’s a good morning, a lullaby, a companion, a record to sit at the edge of your slipping consciousness…and a record that you’re bound to fall for.
A Trophy by Tobias Cummings is out now on Departed Sounds via Other Tongues.