Earth Body was recorded in Montreal, where Wooton now lives. The album, recorded in winter, is uncharacteristically guarded and monochromatic. The soundscapes are even more stripped-back than those of White Magick, which makes the instrumentals—panpipe synths, adult contemporary keyboards and other chintzy textures—sound all the more delicate. When it works, it's wonderful. "Rain" has a sense of romance and yearning, a mature take on the signature Deadboy sugar rush, while the keyboards that move into the second half of "Water Body" will stop you in your tracks. But then there's Wooton's voice. Mumbly, swimming in Auto-Tune and generally shaky, it usually doesn't suit the regal arrangements behind him. It's a problem that plagues nearly every track on Earth Body.
Highlights like "Tide" and "There Is A Light" show that Wooton has the musical chops to write a good song. But, too often, his wariness seems to hold him back. He rap-sings in the style of contemporary pop artists like Rihanna on "Rain," but his apathetic performance obscures both the feeling and the meaning of his lyrics. The stark palette and warbly vocals of Earth Body can recall Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak or some of James Blake's earliest experiments. But unlike those records, Earth Body is just a puddle of pretty sounds.
The flaws in the album suggest that Wooton's vocals just don't say as much as his samples do. He could twist the melodies, cut the syllables and form them into something else entirely. He made vocal chopping a deeply expressive language of his own, spending years making songs that we couldn't get out of our heads. This makes Earth Body—a shy, reluctant record—all the more puzzling.