Get Refreshed: Lullabies, Tears, and Trends

“Get Refreshed” is a weekly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world. Refresh yourself here

Cover by Bernard Vernon

Full Playlist (2021)

Vision4k: “Lullabies, From a Ghoul”

Vision4k spent 2020 in the deepest, darkest doldrums one could imagine. Anyone who experienced their long-awaited album R at the very end of that year would say the same; it was an intoxicating journey through the most ominous spaces of one’s psyche — a pure and utter bone-chilling alternative rock showcase. Not a single ray of light shone over any one of those tracks, as though Vision themself wouldn’t dare to let them in. 

“Lullabies, From a Ghoul” – their first transitional release after R – could’ve laid dormant in those same doldrums like a castaway still wallowing in the pains described on that album. Instead, this EP sees Vision finally opening the blinds and letting some light in. 

Don’t get it twisted, the project is still far grimmer than the average alt-rock spectacle. But the 6 tracks we have here display the sweetest take on the sinister one could ask for. Though tracks like the opening “Silver & Strained” and “Swan Song of the Buried” chug along with an immense amount of dramatic weight on their backs, they flaunt lively, even poppy sensibilities at the same time. And when the EP isn’t trudging in buoyant hopelessness, it’s exploring the art of atmosphere-building with the closing duo of “Kindred Misery” and “A Ghoul’s Lullaby.”

For as remarkable as R was in depicting the most somber sides of elation in musical form, this release does a fantastic job itself in depicting a slowly-burgeoning bright future ahead. More than just that, it also reminds us that Vision4k is still one of the most premier songwriters and all-around performers that the alt-rock world has to offer. If we want to talk about bright futures, their name is near the top of the list, even if they’re just now offering a glimpse of how “brightness” itself can factor into their art.

Yeat: “Trëndi”

It’s a beautiful sight to see when an artist fully, and I mean fully hones their craft. It’s not as though someone like Yeat ever lacked any confidence; unabashed confidence has arguably been his strongest calling card to date. But “Trëndi” – the recent 4-track EP from the breakout talent – flaunts a certain level of tenacity only shared by artists who know they’re the shit, and have the results to show for it. 

Just like how the project’s opener “Mad bout dat” throws the introspective thoughts on the previously-released “Sorry bout dat” right out of the window, Yeat spends the entire EP at large relishing in the rambunctious instead of taking any time at all to think otherwise. He delivers each and every bar here as though he has a million-dollar bet on their efficacious nature — and honestly, I don’t think he’s losing any of those bets whatsoever. 

If confidence is key, then Yeat might as well be hip-hop’s preeminent locksmith. Behind all of its relentless absurdity and amazingly confounding lyrical choices (I’m looking at you, Pickle Rick), there’s beauty in every single moment of this madness. This is a level of blissful brilliance that few have matched this year, and I hope and pray to God that Yeat never lets his seemingly impervious guard down.

Emotionals Says “On Me,” On Everything

2021 has belonged to emotionals. You didn’t need me to tell you that if you’re someone who pays any attention at all to this column; they’ve been a consistent presence here, and have held an even greater one in the eyes of listeners all across SoundCloud. They’ve mastered the art of vocal-centric drum and bass; they’ve played a key role in the rising resurgence of garage; they’ve even flaunted their plugg prowess on multiple occasions. Name any relevant style within this year’s timeline thus far, and there’s a damn good chance emotionals has excelled in it. 

So what’s their secret? Surely there’s a key to this dominant 2021 run up to this point. 

I’ll kill the suspense; there absolutely is. “on me” – their latest drop via the helix tears SoundCloud page – reveals this link beyond a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t matter what style they intend on tackling, because the same thing remains true regardless: stylistically, we never get a “different” emotionals. They stick to the same defining factors that got them to this point in their career, and it’s worked remarkably well in each and every sonic environment they find themselves in.

The helix-hosted single in question sees them bodying a well-paced and grooving instrumental from Powerdoll with the same sense of subdued confidence as the rest of their output thus far. Their infectious vocals – crescendoing up and down as they frequently do – glide over the silky synth riff in a graceful fashion, all the while seeing their value compounded by their consistently playful adlibs and blissfully confident songwriting the entire way through. These traits find themselves infused in nearly every single emotionals track, so it’s no wonder why this song is just as brilliant as their prior output during this dominant stretch. 

And therein lies the key to that exact success, if there ever were to be one. emotionals has mastered the act of applying themself anywhere, and everywhere, they please. You can’t say that about a lot of acts working today, but then again, not a lot of acts have has as great of a year as emotionals anyways…

Rosesleeves + reserv: “delusional”

The inevitable pairing of Rosesleeves and reserv is as logical as can be. These two have quite a lot in common: they’re both soft-spoken vocal crooners with an intense edge when necessary, they each produce the majority of their own respective outputs, and both are seldom heard on others’ tracks. But above all else, they’re both exceptional performers who have gifted us some of the most profoundly emotive musical experiences within the past few years. 

However, “Delusional” – the track that resulted from their debut collaboration – doesn’t exactly line up with either of their blisteringly cinematic past offerings. Rather, this single provides a lesson in discipline — both musically and topically. Rosesleeves’s production is stripped-back and hushed for the most part, only peaking out to reveal itself when the waves of drowning background synths nudge it forward. It stays that way throughout the track’s entire runtime, creating a restrained mood that works in tandem with the lyrical topics at large. 

Those lyrics are let go with all the softened engagement one could ask for from these two. Both being masters of grasping the listener’s attention in an unobtrusive manner, each performance here communicates the themes of inadequacy and longingness in an exceptionally realistic way. These two are cut from the same cloth and it couldn’t be any more apparent based on how their powers come together in each and every aspect this track has in store.

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