It’s one of those times when you wish an EP was implemented in LP’s stead. StéLouse has been playing around with electronic mechanics and breaking away from rock culture since 2013–posting remixes, releasing an EP or two, and recently teasing his debut self-titled album with a few singles. While he doesn’t completely fence off instruments, Ross Ryan definitely has his sights specifically set on annexing a thick layer of pop within the future bass genre, which is triumphus in the beginning but loses focus as the album persists.
The two interludes, “Artery” and “Into The Sea,” instill a nice break before and during the 11-track album, respectively. “Artery,” in particular, usefully creates anticipation through marching band drums for single “Been So Long” featuring Nick Leng. The production and melodic vocals, while reminiscent of something Milky Chance might’ve done if they took on electronic, create a whimsical oasis of jaunty “oohs” and instrumental tickles. The immediate follow-up, “Shivers n Gold” featuring Mascolo, utilizes bass guitar, and is really one of the only times where any nod to rock is present. The soulful vocals match well with the dark machine elements; and the lyrics continue to build a story about love’s losers.
“Plastic” continues the trend, this time with female vocalist, Madi, who assuages man’s deteriorating romance with kind stupid thoughts in hopes of reaching past their plastic exteriors. While not eloquent–“Your laugh’s so cold, you’re plastic cold, can I reach you inner workings?”–or smart–“The world’s outside and what do we do?” (the world will remain outside no matter what you do Madi)–the point makes its way across, and it’s just a comfort to hear a woman snap back at man’s poetic whining.
“A Shock of Heart” is where the album should’ve ended, if every track after “Plastic” was erased. “Dragons” brought nothing new, exercising the same “oohs” from “Been So Long” but sped up. “Lovers,” which embodies a ghostly figure relentlessly inquiring “Tell me what’s been going on” over and over and over again, and “Films,” which takes a page from The Chainsmokers’ worst attributes, were forgettable. The break in “Tangled” has been done way too many times–flowing synth suddenly stopping for a one second experimental jab. And lastly “Coming Home” which challenges nothing and sounds like an amateur recreation of Porter Robinson’s remix for Nero’s “The Thrill.” However, “A Shock of Heart,” which actually does end the album, ties the dark energy with a flurry of optimism, and makes for a great ambient rap-up to a half-baked album.
The times when StéLouse strayed from the pop/future bass experience brought down the album’s consistency and point. It seemed like the Denver-based producer ran out of ideas after a few tracks, and decided to harvest concepts from EDM’s current Marshmello era. He would’ve done his self-titled album a service by digging deeper inside the perpetual love story in realistic, even wider, terms, instead of throwing cringe-worthy lines such as “been acting shady, baby” and “It rains all the day, everyday, at the same place” and especially “Know I’m gon’ be here when you need it” at us. EH.