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First Play: Aron D'Alesio, self-titled

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Andrea Gin

Young Rival singer and guitarist Aron D'Alesio is getting ready to step out on his own with a new self-titled LP, and you can hear it via our stream a week ahead of its release date.

Fans of D’Alesio’s main band will find some familiarity here: the album is infused with the same catchy, nostalgic, indie-pop songwriting sensibilities and D'Alesio's distinctive vocal crooning. But whereas Young Rival songs are multi-pronged, sweeping efforts, the songs on this album are close and intimate — classic bedroom-pop. In fact, D’Alesio wrote, recorded and produced the album on his own in a windowless basement in Hamilton, Ont. He says he found working in isolation to be creatively stimulating.

“The way music works in the context of a band feels really slow, and there’s a sort of process of alienation from what you’re making that happens in that context,” he said via press release. “I was feeling increasingly frustrated and unfulfilled by it, but this project was immediately different. Normally I’d leave as the sun was coming up, or sometimes I’d just sleep there.”

D’Alesio says he let the creative process take over, experimenting without thought to time constraints. The resulting sound references the Beach Boys, with its '50s surf-rock influences and vocal harmonies. It's unrushed and intricate, at once both familiar and unique.

“When I first started I wasn’t sure it was going to work this way, or if it made sense to make something so involved but in the end I don’t think it could have worked any other way. I was just trying to make an interesting record and I did what I could do.”

The album starts off quietly with “Cave Zone,” a swirling, instrumental prelude, and slowly builds to the grand waltz “Best of My Time” and the jangly pop of “Answer to a Question.” The album’s last song is its undeniable high point: the sad, sweet “Diamond Ring.” The video for the song augments its examination of loneliness and isolation — watch it below.

D’Alesio’s self-titled solo debut will be out on Aug. 25 via Paper Bag Records. Pre-order it here. Look for details on his performance at Pop Montreal to be announced later this summer.