Ryan Hemsworth’s Alone For the First Time follows his well-received Guilt Trips (2013) to constitute the Canadian producer’s third studio album. The record immediately offers a unique, somewhat melancholic tone with the opening track “Hurt Me”—something that remains present throughout. The minimalist electronic beats, coupled with a grounding percussion, mix well with the tracks’ slow-paced vocals, all of which are distorted wonderfully to give the album a mellow rhythm that serves it well.
Unfortunately, the album does not build upon this foundation and instead chooses to maintain its slow tempo—a decision that wouldn’t be as maddening if not for the feeling of wasted potential that lingers throughout the album. More baffling still is the short track listing, which would have worked well had its sparse composition climaxed into something greater, but in reality, it leaves the listener wanting more. The whole affair breeds musical style not unlike The Weeknd’s House of Balloons (2011), but whereas that gelled into a complete experience, Alone For the First Time fails to emerge as a satisfying whole, even though tracks like “Snow in Newark” bring it close. Hemsworth’s latest may offer a rich atmosphere and a well executed bare-bones style, but for some, that may not be enough.