Affection: Clear Vinyl LPGI429LPC1
Pre-Order Item. Release Date Subject to Change.
Release Date: 26th April
Bullion's a vibeman, a producer who doesn't just bring in some supreme pop but gives it that indefinable magic dust almost like he's the MSG of pop, you can't put your finger on the taste but it's there and makes everything taste better.
Bullion is Nathan Jenkins, an enduring cult figure of electronic music. A producer and songwriter quietly to be found connecting artists, genre and UK subculture. His credits range from Carly Rae Jepsen, Ben Howard, Nilüfer Yanya and Avalon Emerson’s breakout album & The Charm to records for Westerman and Joviale. Bullion’s celebrated solo releases, meanwhile, have run parallel on Young, The Trilogy Tapes, Jagjaguwar and his own DEEK Recordings. It’s a creative red-thread Bullion ties together on his surprise new album, Affection - a warm, occasionally off-kilter and beautifully realised pop record that’s bold enough to step from behind-the-scenes and show affection in public.
Affection started life upon Nathan’s move back to London from Lisbon, where he relocated in 2018. Back then, the comfort of the crowd suited him: self-confessedly passive and faltering by nature, the opportunity to exist somewhere without any personal history proved liberating. Returning home, Nathan increasingly found himself reflecting on his place in the world, seeking affection in place of cynicism.
Bullion’s music has always been difficult to pin down, but entirely distinctive - and on Affection, its rich pleasures are in hearing how this uncompromising approach is strengthened, in part, by softening. The album wonders-aloud about the meaning of intimacy, in relationship to others and the self. Masculinity and other contemporary concerns are punctuated by old-world charms, found in the ‘hat stands and watches’ of World_train. Influences stretch from morning swims to adolescent fears and a book of poems his Dad wrote as a young man, in songs that are tender if not always true of Nathan himself. Affection ultimately asks how we understand people, but in being more vulnerable at least attempts to care a little less about what they think, too.
Taking your own advice is integral to Bullion’s latest album, where Nathan applies what he’s encouraged fellow artists to do in the studio for years: be open to adventure. Affection steps into a more emotionally-present, often playful space, with collaborators Carly Rae Jepsen and Charlotte Adigéry gracing songs that prioritise feeling over fixed meaning. Rare, for instance, emerged during sessions for Jepsen’s recent album in Toronto: high energy turning coy to express something ‘deep in the heart’. World_train, meanwhile, is an eccentric and brilliantly odd angle on Bullion’s love of pop, its locomotive power summoning a lost past amidst the uncertainties of the everyday. ‘I can hardly understand what it takes to be a real man’, Bullion sings. ‘…and nobody can’, Adigéry confirms. Still, connections - missed, imagined, or still possible - cocoon much of Affection, with Panda Bear collaboration A City’s Never emerging after Noah and Nathan lived in Lisbon at the same time but never actually met. For Bullion, the willingness to allow others into his songwriting process is as much about opening up the world of the album as it is about bettering the work and the person.
In blurring the observational with the introspective, Affection’s avant-pop touch abandons categorisation. The albums lyrics are as unguarded and devotional as they are inquisitive of alternative ways of being, signing off with ‘being still is hard to do’. Nathan has mastered his sound, but life - in its expectations, contradictions, impulses and desires - remains impossible to control.