Album Reviews: Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA, Yves Tumor, Everything But the Girl
Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA – Scaring the Hoes
Detroit, MI & Baltimore, MD/New York City
As two of the most idiosyncratic and unapologetic artists in the game, Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA are surprisingly complimentary as a duo. With jams that either compliment or inspire a great set of verses, and ultimately feel iconic in their own right, the pair have found lightning in a bottle on this effort together. There’s a blend of hyperpop and sample-dense hip hop that makes “Lean Beef Patty” such a strange beast of a track, as it seems to morph around both artists’ unhinged approaches to create a short monster of abrasive pop. “Garbage Pale Kids” runs on its absolutely filthy bass and clanking samples to create a demented audio experience akin to being possessed in real time. The mix of superhero-esque themes and brash delivery on “Burfict” create a triumphant track that makes you want to fight evil and maybe snag a few things for yourself along the way as you do it. The heavenly washes of “Kingdom Hearts Key” set a more ethereal base for the duo to play on, as the quirky samples have a more radio station-like drop on this time, and Danny and JPEGMAFIA come in more like dreamy memories in the mix, creating a truly bizarre but calming sound.
Chris Garneau – First Man (Single)
New York City
Exploring the idea of early love and queer identity through that same romantic discovery, Chris Garneau brings a healthy amount of emotional baggage onboard with “First Man.” The floaty intro has an angelic quality that seems to intentionally romanticize things to an unhealthy degree. So as the song finally hits its sense of movement and groove, Garneau cuts into the hopes and setbacks, and how dangerous that love could be at times. The melodies sway from more classical guitar hits to searing roars of shining guitar and synth, matching that uncertain feeling in the track itself. The track is at its most fiery and yet cold in those final choruses, with Garneau yelling out into the dark in the frustration of what was lost but oh so powerful at the time.
Yves Tumor – Praise A Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
Miami, FL/Turin Italy
Throughout the years, Sean Lee Bowie has defied genre as Yves Tumor, and this time around has seemed to calm down a little. While creating potentially more defined and out-there pop, Tumor seems to hold back a bit on the delivery for a record that feels like its serving a very specific audience. The dirty neon of “God Is a Circle” plays on disaffected dance-punk, crafting an enthralling pallet for a less-than exciting performance from Bowie. This shifts to a more dynamic and engaging back-and-forth on “Lovely Sewer,” where Bowie’s lovely knack for vocal collaborations and kaleidoscopic productions really create a beautiful sonic mélange. The drums alone on “Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood” leave enough explosive insanity to keep you on the edge of your seat, but it’s the way Bowie is able to have the song evolve into a more nature-laden and shoegaze-like track in its second half that show the breadth of their style. The best middle ground of all these ideas comes out in the more frustrated and rhythmic “Echolalia,” in which Tumor lets the bass hit sharper angles and synths dance like dying stars.
Haleluya Hailu – Pinball (Single)
Vancouver, British Columbia
As a different love lament, Haleluya Hailu’s “Pinball” is an audio reflection of that mental game you start playing when a new crush gets its hooks in your brain. The dream-pop quality of the song is all about that glossy, romantic haze, and getting lost in the light, and it lets those beautiful melodies soar to galactic heights. The melancholic tones of the track however play to the lyric’s more spiralling and potentially lost aspects, as that same brain chemistry can help or hinder your life. Though the track ultimately feels amazing as a play on that same duality of double-edged emotion, there’s also a bliss in the ways it touches on a rare chance to potentially mess up together and bond over that in itself.
Everything But the Girl – Fuse
Melding bits of R&B, club influence and old trip hop, Everything But the Girl have made a subdued mood-piece on their latest record. Playing like a lost classic right out of the gate, “Nothing Left to Lose” beautifully straddles dance genres for an entrancing and often heartbreaking production. After a really slow-rolling intro, “No One Knows We’re Dancing” blooms into a cybernetic wonder, full of glowing highs and liquid tones that give the song an otherworldly texture like no other. When that groove drives in on “Forever,” there’s an overwhelming drive to move and get lost in movement as that percussive beat opens the song into a whole new light. The ballad-like flow of “Karaoke” lets every vocal pull your heartstrings more and more until you’re barely able to hold it together, and by the end you’re wailing along with them on those final lines.