By Reece Jamison
I will forgo the typical introduction this week as, on the morning of my writing this, I nurse my hangover with a Blue Chair Cafe breakfast consisting of zesty scrambled eggs, delectable sausage patties, and perfectly broiled toast (I apologize for my shameless plug. Blue Chair, sponsor me, please)! I will review Anderson .Paak’s new single, “‘Til It’s Over,” and Beach House’s “Dive.”
Brandon Paak Anderson hails from Oxnard, California, and is best known for his frequent collaboration with powerhouse artists such Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Mac Miller, Dr. Dre…I could go on, but if you have not heard this talented multi-instrumentalist before, you must have avoided trending music charts for the past five years.
The 32-year-old singer/songwriter extraordinaire burst onto the scene with a smooth, rhythmic and markedly original soul sound in 2014 with his album Venice and followed it up in 2016 with Malibu.
In “‘Til It’s Over,” .Paak finds himself composing a free-spirited and soulful dance track detailing a conversation between himself and a supposed lover about coming to terms with life’s twists and turns, but in the end, deciding it’s best to simply roll with the changes.
The instrumental of the track more closely resembles a dancehall/house beat that one might hear in the dark and suffocating stores of Abercrombie & Fitch, frequented in their teenage years (I may, in fact, still own and wear an A&E cotton flannel shirt, judge me all you want). Rhythmic hand claps, sharp quartered bass thumps, quirky vocal chops and flanger heavy synths compliment .Paak’s iconic raspy, yet canorous vocal work, all wrapped up with beautiful piano melodies and arpeggiated harp progressions.
The dance track could not come at a better time, as spring break is on the horizon for Sewanee’s campus: hang in there, friends! The long days in the sun and even longer nights by the campfire, sunburnt to a crisp, are at hand.
Beach House, comprised of vocalist/keyboardist Victoria Legrand and multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally, is an indie rock group from Baltimore, Maryland, best known for their “dream pop” sound most high-school-age teenagers would say is their go-to for late night listening sessions in their first car as they stargaze with that special someone (don’t read into that). Anyways, the band has put out a steady pace of hazy, grandiose electronic pop songs and albums since their self-titled debut album in 2016.
“Dive” is a track that, in all honesty, does not improve upon, but simply perpetuates, the band’s dreamy, stadium pop sound that they have championed for so long. While it has not necessarily become stale or lost its charm, it does not leave enough room for pushing its boundaries.
If you have heard Beach House before, you will instantly recognize many of the elements of this new song being executed in a very similar manner as done previously on various tracks in their catalog. The instrumental begins, as many of their others do, with reverbed, sleek and tripping synth organs and vocals from Legrand that were mesmerizing three years ago on Depression Cherry, but are so eerily similar to tracks on that previous project that I find myself kind of eager to hit the skip button.
The track rumbles toward its conclusion as electronic drums come in and the volume of the synths and reverb are increased to 10. I guess there is something admirable that comes along with consistency, but at the price of becoming cliche, why would artists not attempt to branch out?
Music, the spellbinding phenomena that connects us all. Here, Reece pays that notion no mind as he gives his completely biased and totally arbitrary opinion on music and the culture around us.