Wave Racer

‘To Stop Falling Off The Earth’
October 29, 2021

It feels impossible that eight years have passed since Tom Purcell first uploaded music to SoundCloud under the name Wave Racer. ‘Rock U Tonight’ and ‘Stoopid’ became big tracks for Australia’s electronic music lovers, and it was obvious to anyone who took a punt on listening to the little-known 21-year-old, that Purcell was extremely talented.

Promoters and label execs clearly agreed, and Wave Racer played a string of big festivals over the few years that followed, also singing a label deal very early on.

Unthinkable back then that the first Wave Racer album wouldn’t be released until the following decade, but here we are, with Wave Racer’s first full-length project To Stop Falling Off The Earth. It drops just over two years after Purcell signed with [PIAS]’s Astral People Recordings.

On first listen, it would be easy to declare the record a big departure from Purcell’s early work as Wave Racer. It immediately feels similar to the stuff he’s released over recent years (of which, several tracks appear on the album), To Stop Falling Of The Earth comprises largely catchy, electro-pop jams. The opening track even starts with a pop-style guitar riff. But in keeping with the history of the Wave Racer project, it’s not that simple.

For sure, this is a record that shows the maturity and development of the artist, but at the same time is filled with countless nods to the type of music that Wave Racer had to make to get here. The opener, ‘All That I Can Do’, encapsulates what the project has become in recent years. No longer is Purcell searching for an identity. Instead, we are presented with an accomplished, highly polished piece of work that mixes happy melodies with real emotion and meaningful lyrics, with plenty to please long-time fans as well.

‘All That I Can Do’ is a genuine pop banger, and is also a striking example of Purcell’s rising confidence level for his own vocals, which are complemented perfectly by tight, poppy production. Then there’s the odd video-game sound effect, one of many easter eggs throughout the record.

As mentioned, there are some previously released tracks appearing on the album, dating as far back as 2019’s ‘AUTO’, and also including ‘Look Up To Yourself’, ‘Left Behind’, and ‘Dreaming’.

There’s even the instrumental ‘What Are We Waiting For?’ something of a throwback to the instrumental early days that had little to no vocals, but even that feels like a more complete story and like a vital cog in the transformation of Wave Racer.

Let’s dive into the brand new stuff, though. There’s the mellow ‘Tell Me The News’, a genuine love song that explores the consequences of old relationships on new ones. It’s an awesome example of how far Purcell’s songwriting has come thematically, even since he started bringing his own vocals into Wave Racer in recent years.

Working in guitar riffs with electronic production is a common tool used throughout To Stop Falling Off The Earth, and on ‘Money’, Purcell has produced a driving effort with resonant and echoey vocals that feels like a tribute to a lot of the tropes used by big pop stars, but began in rock music.

‘Better Than This’ acts as something of an interlude, as Purcell messes around with different textures and sonic timbres, before ‘Just A Thought’ gives very early Wave Racer vibes with a heavily syncopated beat and some of those very familiar ‘wavey’ sounds and effects. The latter really does transport you back a good few years and feels a lot like the tracks that made up Wave Racer’s debut EP Flash Drive back in 2015.

The 11-track album ends with ‘Full Circle’, perhaps the catchiest pop track of all after we wind our way through space to launch into the first verse. It’s yet another clean and vibe-filled tune and yep, there’s another guitar solo bridge that has become a pretty solid, go-to staple of the Wave Racer experience.

To Stop From Falling Off This Earth makes perfect sense in the evolution of Wave Racer, and apart from being a fantastic piece of work, it feels like something that both reflects Purcell’s own personal journey with the project, as well as a turning point in the evolution of something that has arrived at just the right time.

After years of questions about timing, and with his first live shows since 2015 coming up later this year, Wave Racer delivers this record at exactly the right time.

‘To Stop Fallin Off The Earth’ is out today.