NNAMDÏ - Are You Happy EP Music Album Reviews

NNAMDÏ - Are You Happy EP Music Album Reviews
Collaborating with producer Lynyn, the chameleonic Chicago musician offers a toned-down vision of his exuberant experimental pop.

As he’s cycled through hip-hop, math rock, and jazz, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, a.k.a. NNAMDÏ, has always exuded zany energy. On his newest EP, Are You Happy, he tones things down. He and Lynyn, aka Conor Mackey, his bandmate in the experimental jazz group Monobody, began writing these songs in 2020 as a way to find happiness during “a time of introspection when things were generally bleak.” This goal gives the EP its title, but the music lingers longest at its most melancholy. It feels a little foggier than the irreverent NNAMDÏ we’re used to, as if the attempt to manifest musical joy uncovered its own form of dismay.

Most NNAMDÏ albums are self-produced, but Lynyn produced Are You Happy in its entirety, locating a zippy, Auto-Tune-heavy sound at a novel intersection of IDM, late-2010s Charli XCX, and 808s & Heartbreak. Vocal manipulation is nothing new for NNAMDÏ; his 2017 breakthrough DROOL featured near-constant pitch-shifting, and 2020’s BRAT pushed the formula, leaping between rumbling lows and helium highs. The vocal tricks went hand-in-hand with NNAMDÏ’s shapeshifting melodic and production choices, but they’re less effective amid Lynyn’s brisk, streamlined breakbeats and early-morning tones. As the silken electronics of “Doing Too Much” accelerate into double-time, NNAMDÏ’s Auto-Tuned falsetto struggles to keep up. A brief moment of clarity arrives in the second verse, but this too yields to effect-laden vocals that are all but swallowed by the hefty percussion.

Lynyn’s production best elevates NNAMDÏ when his lyrics and delivery lean gloomier. “Are you happy at all? ’Cause I’ve seen you smiling, and I want to feel whatever you feel,” he sings on “Barely Reason for a Smile.” Lynyn adds a layer of brooding synths, deftly connecting the sentiment—darkness feels that much darker when you can’t find the light—with the sound. On “Backseat,” NNAMDÏ appears so eager to depart for a better life that any potential consequences don’t even register: “Hop in the backseat/Where you wanna ride to?/I can take you anywhere,” he sings, his voice descending from high to mid-range as fluttering synths brighten his fantasies. It’s an open invitation to join him wherever he goes, and the double-time, non-Auto-Tuned raps that follow are just as enticing.

As Are You Happy draws to a close, a guest verse from fellow Chicago musician and longtime NNAMDÏ associate Sen Morimoto illustrates why Lynyn’s production isn’t always the right fit for NNAMDÏ’s voice. Even as the oversized synths of “You Don’t Know” glitch and wobble, Morimoto’s verse sounds crystal clear. When he asks, “Why do I feel gaslit when the whites ask if I’m half white?” the question practically jumps out of the mix, his nonplussed delivery cutting through the hyperactive production like a diamond. NNAMDÏ’s voice, by contrast, oscillates almost as ballistically as the music—usually a big part of his charm, but here his words sink in somewhat indistinctly. On Are You Happy, it’s his most downcast and least eccentric vocals that feel paradoxically convincing.

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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.
NNAMDÏ - Are You Happy EP Music Album Reviews NNAMDÏ - Are You Happy EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 09, 2021 Rating: 5


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