Stack's smooth, workmanlike rhythms are the focal point of the record. He folds in elements of garage, dancehall and techno for a fusion that never feels flashy. Take "Run"—it's basically just pounding kicks and brusque vocal samples with all the fury of a Fachwerk record, but delivered in a skewed, wonky cadence. On "Is It Me," the percussion's perky drive lifts an otherwise dreary array of synths and pitched-down vocals, while the giddy "Reassuring" recalls the fizzy rush of what used to be called future garage. That melodic streak is Tell Me I Belong's other hallmark. Late album highlight "Without" is built around a killer vocal hook worthy of a Rihanna tune, while the ribbons of silk, soft organ sounds and ethereal female vocals of "Below" steer it in the direction of early '00s pop trance.
The first time the vocals match up with the twirling synths in "Below," it's a near-perfect synchronicity. Tell Me I Belong is full of moments like these, but they're always fleeting, which means the LP falls short of true greatness. It's such easy listening that the uniform smoothness becomes a double-edged sword, so breezy and lightweight it can float by without calling attention to itself if you're not listening closely.
That feeling is compounded by the shorter tunes, which make an already short record feel shorter. Maybe Stack prefers brevity; double the length of these tracks and you've got an hour-long LP. As it's presented, his debut album is hesitant, merely hinting at a strong aesthetic that he's been fleshing out in his DJ sets. One thing's for sure, though: Tell Me I Belong makes me want to hear more.