Four Short, Laid-Back Listens
Issue 7, Volume 112
EPs (Extended Plays) are like little drops of candy to hold you over until dinner time; they’re short and sweet, they end too quickly, and what you’re really after is that massive turkey of an album that still hasn’t dropped yet. Whether you’re eating a bowl of cereal or procrastinating on your math homework, you can probably find the time to listen to an EP. When you find a spare 20 minutes, try these.
“always” (2020) by keshi
On “always,” 27-year-old singer-songwriter keshi uses electronic effects to thicken his acoustic bedroom pop sound. His signature mixture of auto-tuned harmonies, stacked acoustic guitars, and dense 808s shines best on songs like “more” and “drunk,” the latter of which beautifully showcases keshi’s honey-thick vocals and touching lyrics. keshi also explores new sounds in this EP, like in the jazzy bedroom pop vibe of lead single “always” and in EDM-inspired “talk.” While these contrasting influences make for some wonderful songs, they do cause some inconsistency, especially evident in the final ballad, “us,” which slows down the pace almost to a fault. Nevertheless, “always” is a great, laid-back EP for falling asleep and falling in love.
“That’s a Girl’s Name” (2018) by Shelley FKA DRAM
The clean, fat, and funky sound achieved by rapper and singer Shelley FKA DRAM with this three-song single is unique and masterfully bubbly. Sexy piano synths, crunchy drums, and thick basslines maintain the energy while gospel-inflected vocals playfully croon about “that girl in the sundress” and brag about getting “the best hugs” from “your girl.” The lyrics of all three songs create the goofy, laid-back atmosphere that Shelley FKA DRAM specializes in. Somehow, these flirty lines avoid being sleazy, partially thanks to the inclusion of “WWYD,” a rap-oriented banger that asks someone what they’d do if they had a hundred thousand dollars. The project is as juicy as it is goofy, and once you go in, it’s impossible not to go back for a second listen.
“In A Dream” (2018) by Troye Sivan
On “In A Dream,” 26-year-old singer-songwriter Troye Sivan delivers more of his usual brand of honest, sensual pop, but this time with a harsh, electronic twist. The whole EP sounds like it was dipped in acid, with the swelling landscape, lush synthesizers, and falsetto sounds uniting with dance-ready drums, stabby synthesizers, and reverberant vocals. All of this distortion brings out the heartbreak present in the EP’s effortlessly relatable lyrics, which focus on a break-up. Given that Sivan isn’t yet intimately familiar with this liquid brand of pop, it’s no surprise that this experimental EP could use some cleaning up, from the loud metallic synth in the breakdown of “Take Yourself Home” to the crowded chorus of “IN A DREAM.” Still, the release as a whole is wonderfully gritty and, well, dreamy.
“Bangkok Balter Club” (2019) by Phum Viphurit
The sweet, optimistic spirit of Phum Viphurit’s sound and lyrics runs into even the most heartbreaking moments of this charming, beachy EP. Each shy, wonderful instrument––electric and acoustic guitars, funky synthesizers, reverberant pianos, witty drums––seems to play off into the sunset without a care in the world. Nothing highlights this better than the extended jam session of “Softly Spoken,” in which a happy band orbits a dreamy piano to create a seriously heavenly atmosphere. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. “Time please rewind / time I would buy / but it’s time for goodbye” Viphurit sings with a painful smile on “Pluto,” a ballad powerful enough to bring you to tears. This summery gem of an EP, in all its heart-wrenching glory, is sure to capture your heart and bring a smile to your face.