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Leo Bhanji - Arm’s Length EP Music Album Reviews

Leo Bhanji - Arm’s Length EP Music Album Reviews
The London producer’s second EP of the year is a nebulous collage of lo-fi R&B, hip-hop, and electronic. It feels like a sketchbook of ideas in search of their final forms.

Leo Bhanji prefers to keep his options open. On “Sea Demon,” a typically ruminative track from his new EP Arm’s Length, the London singer and producer preemptively shuts down the idea of a serious relationship: “I’m getting crushes out here but I’m too young,” he insists. The noncommittal attitude carries through his music, a lo-fi collage of R&B, hip-hop, and electronic he produces in his bedroom. He’s blending styles, yes. But it’s also possible he just hasn’t decided on one yet. “I literally just turned 20,” he sang on last year’s “Blade of Hope.” The last thing anybody wants to do at that age is settle.

Arm’s Length is Bhanji’s second EP of 2021, and even more so than its predecessor, Birth Videos, it plays like a sketchbook, early drafts of songs that could be dressed up in so many different ways that he found it easier to leave them mostly naked. Bhanji’s music doesn’t shy from the usual alt-R&B touchstones: He sings with the plainspokenness of Frank Ocean, produces with the tasteful restraint of James Blake, and packages it all with the vaporous ephemerality and purposeful unfinished edges of How to Dress Well.

Yet he folds in enough unexpected influences that his music never feels like a retread. There’s a good bit of Future in both his flow and his capacity for spinning lyrics that might otherwise read as a flex into solemn words of self-contemplation (“Sometimes, I make people feel they picked the wrong side,” he sings on “Polaroid,” his voice offering no clues as to how he feels about that). There’s some debt to King Krule, too, in his rumpled delivery and the occasionally hallucinatory bend of his lyrics, which becomes apparent when he starts rapping about Area 51 on “Nevada.” “UFO searchlights pierce through my closed eyes/Ride on my shoulders/Periscope in the corn/City like a bad dream,” he free-associates.

Throughout Arm’s Length’s bleary 12-minute run, Bhanji tests lanes and tries on identities, unsure of whether he’d rather be a villain or a wounded soul, a playboy or a romantic. Even the lo-fi trappings, so fundamental to his current musical identity, seem as if they might be a placeholder until he figures out his next play. With its bright strummed guitar, the tender closer “Window Up” teases the kind of unabashed pop song he could surely make if he wanted to.

The noncommittal nature of Bhanji’s music simultaneously cuts against it and works in its favor. He’s an impactful enough producer to sustain something truly substantial, but like its predecessors, Arm’s Length feels more like a tease than a statement. Still, as teases go, it’s an enticing one. There’s an intrigue that comes with spending time in the headspace of a musician who writes so candidly about themself yet still feels vaguely unknowable.

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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.
Leo Bhanji - Arm’s Length EP Music Album Reviews Leo Bhanji - Arm’s Length EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, November 12, 2021 Rating: 5

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