Album: Volume I
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to express a complex array of feelings. With contemporary western culture, we seem to be hellbent on the “more is better” attitude—the more we have, or the more descriptive we are about something, the better. While there are definitely times where more is great, there are times where simplicity is king—and Volume I is one of those times. The debut release by pop/R&B artist She., Volume I displays a sprawling spectrum of human emotion with only four tracks of minimally-produced, ultra-mellow and ambient pop. Sprouting forth from a simplistic, monosyllabic name, She. take on the challenge of grappling with the entirety of human emotion: happiness, sadness, melancholy, depression and elation all in one, summarizing the entirety of what it means to exist with no filler and no frills.
She. is Hunter Young’s brainchild brought to life by Austin Coupe’s creative expertise when it comes to beat-making and production. Coupe–operating under his pseudonym SHOT–sets the tone with production that borrows from atmospheric beats(think Future’s DS2 or The Weeknd’s latest release) with ever-so-slightly aggressive hooks, just bold enough to stay caught in the listener’s head. “WHIRL” and “The Letdown” see him at his most ethereal, with times where the only hint of Coupe’s production is a faint hi-hat tick and airy, ambient notes harmonizing with Young’s voice like aural camouflage. “Rain” sees Coupe coming out of his shell, however—with a brighter beat and flashier production that gives the song an edge sharp enough to cut its way to a Radio Top-40 spot. Coupe’s production is subtle enough at points where the listener can almost forget about it, carried off in a near-dream state—just to be brought back into the track with a sharp clap or a thicker, more aggressive kick—reminding the listener that Coupe seems to always have one more trick up his sleeve.
Masterful as Coupe’s production and beat-craft is, they are simply tasteful backdrops for the main event—Young’s vocal prowess. Those familiar with Young’s previous works might not even believe he is involved with the project at all; however, sure enough, it’s his voice crooning the catchy chorus on “Seazon” and the vivid bridges on “Rain.” Young’s voice ranges from smooth and natural to coated in reverb and other effects via Coupe’s addition—but the result is constant: creative and catchy vocal patterns with simple, yet emotionally evocative lyrical imagery, bound to appeal to fans of just about any type of music. “Seazon” and “Rain” are far and away his catchiest tracks—especially “Seazon,” where his voice remains predominantly free of effects and filters, allowing it easy access to the listener’s short-term memory. “The Letdown” is a more enigmatic track, where Young’s voice sways and oscillates like a warm breeze, elusive and exhausting, effectively lulling the listener into a near-hypnotized state.
With the mellow, but sexy “Rain” and the eerie sensation of being lost throughout the entirety of “The Letdown,” both following the more emotionally deep anthem “WHIRL,” She. takes the listener on a journey on Volume I that can best be described as simply “being.” With downtrodden and depressive moments counterbalanced by points of powerful passion and pointed, aggressive production, everything from anger to love and loss is present in Volume I, coated in a series of smooth, mellow beats that makes it easy to listen yet impossible to forget. Where She’s oscillation between mellow and mellower is wonderful, some of Young’s catchier portions make the listener wish there were more moments like the hook to “Seazon” or the beginning to “Rain.” Young’s first marked foray into a non-metallic genre is an enormous hit—just as emotional and visceral as anything else he has put himself into, just through a different and more experimental means of expression. In short, Young and Coupe together give a wonderful lesson on what it is to just be.
For Fans Of: The Weeknd, Future, Michael Barr
By: Connor Welsh