The impact of Covid on British pop music has proved a curious factor. The anticipated glut of pandemic pop – introverted music powered by loneliness, woe on the state of the world and existential dread – by no means materialised. As an alternative, pop regarded outward: maybe as a pure response to the privations of the instances, or maybe, extra pragmatically, taking notice that the large hits throughout lockdown advised audiences weren’t terribly fascinated by wallowing in what had occurred. The previous few years have been dancefloors and disco balls all the best way. Seven months after Britain’s ultimate pandemic restrictions ended, the charts are noticeably devoid of introspection: if anybody did make music like that whereas caught at dwelling or staying two metres away from everybody else, they appear to have stored it to themselves. Even Lewis Capaldi, the multi-platinum breakout star of pre-Covid sadboy angst, has returned with a single that leavens his regular model of romantic calamity with one thing like a dance beat.
It’s a shift mirrored within the saga of the third album by Mura Masa, as 26-year-old Guernsey-born producer Alex Crossan prefers to be identified, who rose to fame 5 years in the past when tropical home was in vogue, earlier than going off-piste along with his guitar-heavy second album RYC. His preliminary thought throughout Covid was to observe RYC with “a bunch of ponderous and introspective music”. His second thought was apparently to surrender music fully and turn out to be a potter. His third was to attempt the stuff that includes Demon Time, which couldn’t be much less ponderous or introspective if it tried. It’s not simply an album that incorporates a tune known as Prada (I Like It), it’s an album on which a tune known as Prada (I Like It) ranks amongst its deeper and extra profound statements, the place even a solitary throwback to the melancholy type of its predecessor – 2gether, which carries one thing of Radiohead circa The Bends in its DNA – finds itself unexpectedly disrupted by an incongruous grinding synth drop.
2gether apart, Demon Time’s main musical affect is clearly UK storage, or extra particularly the ultra-poppy pressure of UK storage that hit large within the early 00s charts: the Sunship mixture of Mis-Teeq’s All I Need, Liberty X’s Suave Dodger produced Considering It Over, Shanks & Bigfoot’s Candy Like Chocolate. To the sort of toothsome melodies that prevailed on these tracks, it provides intentionally cluttered beats, a frenetic array of discovered sounds – online game synths, please-replace-the-handset-and-try-again beeps, kids guffawing, cell phone ringtones and textual content message alerts – and a plethora of visitor vocalists.
Mura Masa has all the time displayed a formidable capacity to spherical up large names for his albums’ supporting solid lists – Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell, A$AP Rocky, Damon Albarn and Charli XCX amongst them – and the identical is true right here. Slowthai turns in a very bug-eyed efficiency on Up All Week, a monitor that references Faithless’s 1995 pop-trance anthem Insomnia. On Blessing Me, Pa Salieu does battle with Jamaican MC Skillibeng: the previous has the Auto-Tune, however the latter is armed with a formidable array of euphemisms for his penis. He begins out with the simple “cocky” and finally ends up evaluating it to an Amazon Hearth stick: provided that an Amazon Hearth stick is barely three inches lengthy, this can be a metaphor that maybe expresses one thing aside from that which he meant.
Elsewhere, Lil Uzi Vert, Shygirl and PinkPantheress are crowded onto Bbycakes, which makes the pop-garage affect express by borrowing its refrain from Child Desserts, a 2004 chart-topper by one-hit-wonders 3 of a Form, itself a monitor so light-weight it made Candy Like Chocolate sound like Suicide. However that’s clearly not light-weight sufficient. Right here, the feminine voices singing the hook are sped up right into a helium cutesiness that’s very of the second. Presumably born out of the necessity to match them into transient video clips, rushing tracks up is now an ongoing social media development, spawning Spotify playlists filled with squeaky variations of all the pieces from Ellie Goulding’s Lights to Musical Youth’s Go the Dutchie
It’s a relentless, wilfully sugary bombardment that stands or falls by the standard of the songwriting. When the tunes are robust, it’s cheerily flimsy enjoyable, as on the Erika de Caiser-sung E-motions, or Tonto, which options Honduran vocalist Isabella Lovestory and is provided with a melody highly effective sufficient to distract consideration from the accordion within the background, which is enjoying one thing that sounds perilously near the Lambada.
When the tunes aren’t robust, listening to Demon Time appears like standing inside earshot of a tween who’s frantically scrolling by TikTok with out earbuds, which both makes it a brilliantly constructed mirror of our instances, or an album-length public nuisance, or maybe each. Whichever it’s, it’s an album that takes the post-lockdown pop development for the fizzy and brash to an excessive from which there’s no return: when it’s over, the need to listen to one thing ponderous, introspective and wracked with existential angst is difficult to assuage.
This week Alexis listened to
Jockstrap: What’s It All About?
Behind the horrible title and the intentionally terrible sleeve, Jockstrap’s debut album is filled with good issues, amongst them this superbly dejected ballad.