Forcing his current style to meet his classic sound face-to-face, Mura Masa pulls the two together in beautiful circle.
His 2020 album R.Y.C. had essentially turned me off him. Not that it was bad music, but a classic case of an artist straying from their established turf, and in turn leaving behind a disgruntled, bitter crowd of “OG” fans who can’t accept their idol’s need to evolve.
I did enjoy the Clairo and slowthai collabs on that record, but the sound was a clear indication of a newfound love: the joy of shamelessly leaning into the teen angst cliché. Distinctly indie-punk in aesthetic, Alex Crossan had simply moved on from what I fell in love with in some 6 years ago. That wonky, super organic style of electronic to me represented UK youth culture—an infinite melting pot of influences that let us forge out our own sonic identity.
The change was nonetheless understandable. Perhaps Alex felt the culture “Mura Masa” was trying to capture was too vast to feel personal, to feel true to himself. The new lane he shot for on R.Y.C. gave him much more licence to be self-reflexive.
But on his latest single, something magical happens. The opening sounds like it could be any R.Y.C B-side. The simple, subdued guitar strums and emo lyrics don’t give anything away just yet. Synths creep in the shadows but don’t cause a scene. Then, glitchy vocals start to appear, full of fizz. The atmosphere swells and the angst in Gretel Hänlyn’s melody becomes heavier. The final “together” sung in the buildup slips and waivers before the euphoric release. Violently wonky synth wubs and bitcrushed percussion make for pure emotional catharsis.
Even I hadn’t realised that his music needed this. The cultural landscape shot he was shooting for in the mid-2010s was probably too unwieldy to make any strong statement with. Having previously pulled heavily from so many Black influences, his white-guy attempt (although nicely put together) was probably too flattened out to mean anything.
The pure untamed melodrama in the songwriting and vocal performance here make for an ecstatic listen. The downsampled fizz gives it so much more feel than he’d ever been able to achieve before. I was hardly expecting to, but I really love this song.