Roger Sellers is not a DJ. That’s the PR strapline that accompanies the release of his latest album as Bayonne, Drastic Measures. You can understand why he’s keen to put this out there; stigmatically a DJ spins the tunes, he doesn’t create the tunes. To call Sellers a DJ – which allegedly has been done many times – does the Texan an incredible disservice. I’d argue that trying to stretch to calling him a producer even is an equal disservice.
Sellers wants us to know that he isn’t Calvin Harris or David Guetta and indeed he is not. Roger Sellers is a gifted electronic artist and composer, an anti-laptop hero, a real life full-kit on stage kind of artist.
Drastic Measures is Sellers’ second album under brand Bayonne, following 2016’s Primitives, and it had the good decency to drop in the UK during the year’s first sign of sunlight on a warm and hazy February day, adding a dawning-spring sense of joy to that first listen.
Weather doesn’t always define a record of course, but this is listening for laid-back sunny afternoons, letting the world breeze on by, though I’m sure others would equally argue its impact on a cosy wet weekend.
An important aspect to the album's success, and indeed Sellers’ work in general, is composition. Drastic Measures isn’t just an electronic allsorts of beeps and dings to make up a sack of songs. It’s a meticulously orchestrated soundscape; an artist’s palette of colour and flair, each nuance of every song carefully considered and every texture purposeful. Importantly it is a body of work that changes itself up often enough to keep the flow constantly vibrant and the listener captivated.
At times rippling, ambient electronica akin to Baths or Mount Kimbie (‘QA’, ‘Same’), at times straight-up bubblegum Timberlake or Toro Y Moi (‘Uncertainly Deranged’, ‘I Know’) and even fold-in the most accessible sides of Animal Collective and Yeasayer (‘Drastic Measures’, ‘Gift’ ) and Drastic Measures shows itself to be a complex and enveloping experience.
Easy to overlook among the sonic gushes of tone and colour, we are reminded of Sellers’ gifted vocals. They are beautifully done here, allowed to confidently drift as naturally as possible across the kaleidoscopic backdrop, with the trigger to the effects button pulled sparingly.
I’ve said it countless times, there is nothing wrong with creating pop music, even at this stage in the commercial pop music cesspit. It just needs to be the right kind of pop music; artisan and meaningful. Wash away all the hyperbole, grandiose descriptors and at its bare basics Drastic Measures is pop music as it should be.