Tracing Paths – [blackwinterwells] x [8485]

The most ideal future for pop music lies in the hands of blackwinterwells and 8485. These two artistic sensations are tried and true examples of how music has progressed up to this point in time — a time now where the quality of one’s art is judged and admired for its sincerest qualities, rather than how well it fits into the “popular lexicon” at a given moment. 

Whether it is through brutal, emotional honesty, celestial sonic atmospheres, or just how downright learned and experienced the music sounds, these two have exemplified all that it means to make standout art in this day and age. The Helix Tears duo is a match made in heaven as well, simply defying the idea of chemistry and crafting collaborative offering after collaborative offering as though they were meant to make each and every song they ever did as a pair. 

So it comes as no surprise whatsoever that these two would make a project together that not only stands out for its seamless pairing of these two alone, but also in marking a statement that elevates their respective statuses as future pop icons all the same. That project has indeed come in the form of “Tracing Paths” — a four-track EP that does all it could ever do in translating these claims into a purely musical medium.

Though Wells and Eighty are the standout figures here, the remarkable efforts of Taylor Morgan and Emorave as “Tmorave” on this project serve as the third piece to this magnificent puzzle as a whole. These two prevailing production forces team up to produce all four tracks here, and their dynamic sense of rhythm and distinct pop sensibilities alike truly make for an outstanding setting for the two main subjects to embellish upon throughout the project’s entirety.  

And that they do with such natural ease and comfort; this EP is a swift listen that soars through the listener’s mind with all the grace in the world. The leading track “circles” is a masterful opening cut that features an all-too-gripping performance by 8485 as it begins. Her heartful chorus leads into a much more punchy verse from blackwinterwells — leading into an appropriately-placed key change to cement this track’s dynamic nature in stone.

Another key change occurs in the following “just words,” this time placed much more subtly towards the middle of the track. What precedes it is perhaps the project’s most memorable hook provided by Wells — a back-and-forth passage that becomes drilled in the listener’s head due to her incredibly sound approach to crafting these types of refrains. Eighty’s performance is just as emphatic and moving as any other by her, telling a tale of a conflicting relationship and the trials that come with it.

Themes that revolve around difficult relationships and the toll they take on each of our performers here stay consistent throughout the EP in a narrative sense, creating a cohesive trait that a project like this could not bear to live without. “ensnared” reiterates this claim in its own right with its hopeless and dark chorus by Wells and its far-off and distant verse put in by Eighty. This track is certainly among the most effective on this EP at translating those themes in full effect.

“Weathered” is an all-too-fitting closing track, acting as a conclusive finish to this resonate experience from all angles. Its fast-paced tempo aligns beautifully with the simplified repetitions of “I gave you nothing” by Wells on the track’s chorus. Eighty’s verse provides a direct response to these calls by giving closure to her place in this undisclosed relationship, promising that she is trying her best despite her conflicting thoughts becoming too much to take in the process.

Though the story closes there, this project is set to reverberate in the minds of many for quite the longest time. These two came through with an EP that defines both their own current places as standout musicians, and also how effectively they transcend what it means to make spectacular pop music today. They can certainly accomplish these feats on their own as solo acts, but together they make for easily the best duo working in their lane today, and the quality of work speaks to that sentiment beyond a shadow of a doubt.