Bladee - Exeter Music Album Reviews

The enigmatic Swedish rapper strips back his hypnotic music until it’s nothing but AutoTuned crooning and chanted slogans.

Though his Auto-Tuned vocals have remained a constant, each Bladee project tends to sound like a new era. The enigmatic Swedish rapper and Drain Gang leader has moved through the airy lo-fi sound of his first mixtape, 2014’s Gluee, to the the icy industrial of his 2016 debut album, Eversince, and the futuristic pop of Drain Gang’s most recent group project, 2019’s Trash Island. Along the way, his music has become sunnier and more melodic, while his songwriting, which has veered at times into the deeply depressive, has grown increasingly pared down and positive.

EXETER is Bladee’s third studio album and the first time he’s worked significantly with Gud, the Sad Boys producer and close Yung Lean collaborator. Bladee has always had range—even on his first album, aggressive songs like “Rip” lived alongside ballads like “Skin”—but, here, he pushes even further towards blissful pop and strips down his lyrics to their most minimal extreme.

The album’s intro, “MIRROR (HYMN),” serves as a blueprint for his approach. Over twinkling ascending notes, he repeats three phrases—“Mirror in the way,” “Follow all the way,” and “Window in the way”—in a circular pattern before adding something more concrete: “Ego in the way/I go all the way/I’m not in the way.” On “MERRY-GO-ROUND,” he examines the cycles of life, striking a satisfying balance between simple writing and catchy melody. But his less-is-more approach starts to feel hollow on “EVERY MOMENT SPECIAL,” a song with even simpler lyrics that consist of just two repeated phrases (“Every moment’s special, you make every moment special” and “Only one wish, baby, it has to be perfect”).

Where the 18-minute project starts to feel shapeless, guest spots on “WONDERLAND” and “LOVESTORY” from Ecco2K, Bladee’s sweet-voiced Drain Gang compatriot, help anchor it. But it’s Gud’s production that glues the album together. Listening to the crinkly distortion effects on “RAIN3OW STAR (LOVE IS ALL)” with headphones on sounds like dialing out of the Matrix. More than ever before, Bladee uses his voice like another instrument and pays attention to blank space, allowing Gud’s sparkling melodies and muffled percussion to breathe. They meet perfectly on “DNA RAIN,” a glitchy, angelic song that’s a reminder of Bladee’s influence on the clipped vocal stylings of current internet darlings 100 gecs and the legion of artists that have already sprung up in their wake.

Bladee’s music has always been about building alternate universes, and the one he creates with Gud on EXETER sounds like a warped version of Mario’s journey to save Princess Peach—but without a neat and predictable conclusion. Instead, he seems to be removing himself as much as possible and inviting listeners to grapple with their own interpretations. “I’m not special,” he emphasizes over and over on “OPEN SYMBOLS (PLAY) BE IN YOUR MIND.” For those that haven’t yet bought into Bladee, EXETER probably won’t be the turning point and, even among die-hard fans, it’s minimalism has already proven to be controversial. But it’s the sort of album that rewards you the closer you lean into it.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Bladee - Exeter Music Album Reviews Bladee - Exeter Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, April 23, 2020 Rating:

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