Ex-Kid British boy wonder turned solo hybrid of the Streets and Blur.
The lineup: Adio Marchant (vocals, music).
The background: You could call it a case of every dog having his day, or simply just reward for (dogged) persistence, but anyway, here comes Bipolar Sunshine, the second appearance in this column for Adio Marchant, former frontman with Manchester almost-rans Kid British. The fact that he’s now operating as Bipolar Sunshine perhaps offers some clues as to why Kid British didn’t work out. His is a rather bleak, contrary vision, and although more often than not he frames his mordant worldview within upbeat settings, he’s clearly a character who is deeply affected by relationships, circumstances and his surroundings. He’s quite possibly hard work, but at least it means he gets the results he wants.
It also means he can be a bit perplexing. We’ve actually put off writing about him since his summer debut EP Aesthetics, mainly because we didn’t know how to pitch him to you, so god knows how he’d market himself to a record label. He seems to relish the confusion he causes. He’s even got a song called Trouble in which he admits, «I know you’re trouble and I like it — because you know I’m trouble, too. It takes one to know one!»
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So we know who he is — a Mancunian twentysomething with a background in bands. But what is Bipolar Sunshine? Good question. He’s a (deep breath) rapping, singing indie-rocker with a penchant for gospel, soul and pop kind of guy. A Mike Skinner/Damon Albarn hybrid. You can hear for yourself on his latest EP, Drowning Butterflies, and maybe you will have seen/will see for yourself on his various support slots with Haim, Bastille, Rudimental and Phoenix. He’s had a lot of the treatment you would expect from a new(ish) artist with talent and promise — plays on all the right radio shows (the Zanes and Huws) and all the right blogs, including Fader, This Is Fake DIY, Pigeons and Planes and more, who have proclaimed him the future of jaunty, poetic miserablism.
Marchant’s own intention is modest: «to move away from what people still perceive as Manchester music.» Job done, really, because he doesn’t sound like anyone Manc past or present. That’s not to say he’s utterly original, just that he doesn’t evoke any specific artist from the city. He’s a fan of everyone from Arctic Monkeys to Kanye and Kendrick and he grew up listening to the Carpenters and the Smiths, but you can’t really tell. He has yet to magic a composition informed by, say, Goodbye to Love and How Soon Is Now, although we breathlessly await that moment. But meanwhile he has given us: Love More, Worry Less that recalls Blur’s Tender sung by a latterday Bill Withers; Rivers which incorporates elements of hip hop, indie and African music; Drowning Butterflies with its reggae lilt; and the synthy atmospherics of Trouble. And he does channel some of Morrissey’s (and Richard Carpenter’s) epic melancholy, with lyrics that reflect his anguish about «pain and lust» and his desire to escape the mundanity of relationships even as they draw him in. If he carries on like this, we’d gladly feature him in a third guise.
The buzz: «Primed for big things» — Fader.
The truth: You’ll be confused, but in a good way.
Most likely to: Morph.
Least likely to: Sink.
What to buy: The Drowning Butterflies EP is out now.
File next to: Damon Albarn, Mike Skinner, Sampha, King Krule.