Argonauta uses their self-titled album Argonauta to combine their years of musical experience with the emotions of the last few years. With tracks that touch on extremely relevant topics from mental health to isolation and loss, the album fuses their experience and styles into a dreamy, synth-infused alternative pop experience. Packed with uplifting songs and a bite of emotional reality, the album sweeps through moments of hope, joy and levity.
Adam Sullivan (vocals, keyboards) and Charlie Rauh (guitars, bass) are the musical duo behind the sound. After being unable to tour individually when the pandemic hit, they came together to form Argonauta in 2020. Having worked together in the past, they were able to join their skills and remotely record this debut album.
The album opens with ‘Kate’ and the soft piano opening that lulls you into a false sense of the single. The guitars and vibrating darkness of the beats rise from the depths and swirl around you like wisps of inky smoke. There is a very deep feeling to the melody that has a heavy touch of darkness made more powerful with the almost drone of the beats. The vocals lap over each other causing you to tumble against them and twirl in the smoky soundscape. There is a churning of emotion in this track that lightens slightly in the latter parts but this does nothing to dispel the heaviness of the track. It is an amazing opening to the album and instantly has you wanting to hear what else the band has to offer.
‘Chivalry’ has a heavier electronic edge to the opening that jingles into a lighter movement. There is a much brighter feeling to this track compared to the opening one, but resting in the low levels is a thread of darkness. The vocals have a retro synth feeling to them that casts your mind back in time. The chorus brings a burst of brightness and happy vibes that you ride into the next verses. There is a very interesting feeling to this track as you reach weightless highs on the chorus only to drop for the verses where lingering uncertainty invades your thoughts. It is a perfect flow of emotion that replicates how we have all felt at some point. Later in the track, the instrumentation rises up with the beats surrounding you and the guitar pulling you forward.
There is an intangible feeling to the opening of ‘Let Me Go’ like mist wisping through your fingers. The vocals have a sigh to them that brings weariness to the lyrics. The lyrics have an open vibe that lays out thoughts and feelings in an unapologetic way. As the single progresses, the melody gains this sunny and easy vibe that is countered by the tired edge of the vocals. It is a delightful interplay that tugs you into happy vibes only for you to be pulled back by the chain that connects you to something or someone in your past. Through the lyrics, we are treated to the emotions of someone who is ready to move on but is being held back by someone else who is unwilling to let them go.
‘Love Is Everything’ is more uplifting and upbeat than the tracks that have come before. There is a twinkle and raindrop movement to the melody that brings a feeling of new beginnings to the track. The vocals have a delicate softness to them that you want to sink back into. As you listen to the vocal performance, you can feel a sense of peace flooding your senses and the weight of the world lifting from your shoulders. While there is a freeing feeling to the track, the lyrics do touch on the negatives of the world only to send them scattering in the wind. Beneath the vocals, is a rich melody has you riding a cloud as it soars through the atmosphere.
The guitar that opens ‘I Don’t Need You Anymore’ grabs your attention with the movement before the bubbling beats rise beneath it. There is a wonderful build through the opening that leads you to the reflective vibes of the vocals. The vocals have an almost nostalgic feeling as the lyrics send you back in time to a single moment that changes everything. Through the verses, the vocals have you floating on the softness of nostalgia before the chorus changes things up slightly while bringing a realisation to the lyrics. Later in the track, the guitar dances with toe-tapping drums for a stunning bridge that seems to take the song to a whole new level.
‘Marianne’ brings some of the darkness of the early tracks of the album back with the twilight synths. The humming vocal opening intertwines with the synths for an addictive movement. This turns into a pulse of sound that taps against the back of your brain before moving into a lighter melodic flow. This track is a masterpiece of contrasts as it moves from dark twilight tones to soft pastel colours. The ups and downs represented by this movement perfectly capture the rollercoaster some relationships can be. The horns that come in later add a new texture to the melody that brings a new twist to the sound.
The steady movement of the piano opening ‘Break Just a Little’ leads you into the current of the vocals. There is no way that you can avoid being swept into the current of the vocals as they tug at your heartstrings. The lyrics are a tale of heartbreak and the sadness that comes after that you feel no one else is able to understand. The echoing harmonies of the vocals enhance the emotive power of the vocals to really break your heart and fill your chest with the pain of the track. There is an understanding that someone wonderful is over and you can never get it back. For all the pain the chorus brings to your heart, it is undeniably catchy and you may find yourself singing along.
‘Apocalyptic Love’ has an intensity to the opening that is strangely soft. It is like a gentle wind rushing over your skin only to sting you with the sand it carries. The eeriness that rests in the low levels of the opening crawls out of the undergrowth as the single progresses. There is a hair-raising feeling to the vocals at times that sets you on edge and has shadows flickering in the corner of your eyes. This is particularly intense in the chorus that fills your muscles with tension and terrible anticipation. This track is so different to the others on the album that it really showcases the versatility of the band.
The album comes to a close with ‘Heist’ and its single piano note opening. There is something expansive about the solitary note that fills the opening and leads you to the almost white fog of the main melody. Sullivan’s vocals send shivers racing down your spine leaving a chill in their wake. While there is an expansive feeling to the melody, it is tempered with the uncertainty generated by the strings that haunt the far reaches of the soundscape. As you wander through the fog of the melody, the vocals swirl like mist around you. The lyrics are well worth a good listen as they are bolstered by the intense and, at times, dramatic movement of the melody.
Argonauta uses their debut self-titled album to showcase their versatility and get you instantly hooked to their sound. Across the tracks, they move from uplifting sighs to creeping darkness and the intensity of uncertainty. Each track is wonderfully different while carrying a thread of something unique to the duo.