Offering a rather sublime follow-up to the Revolution release, Isaiah Mclaughlin adopts a soulful vocal range throughout this emotive, alternative RnB-led collection that is Narcissist.
Far from content with adhering to the rules of a single genre, the project brings together ambient, often industrial yet dreamy soundscapes, with elements of both falsetto and lower-toned voice for contrast and clear emotional progression.
At Night is an easy highlight and starts things off on a strong foot. A uniquely expressive, heartfelt performance and arrangement, which leads seductively into the unpredictable and somewhat tribal tones of Like a Witch.
Production-wise there’s plenty of character here, and that vocal tone and overall writing style tips its hat back to the last release, though here we get a notably fresh look at a variety of stories and moods relating to contemporary narcissism – a thread that runs throughout the experimental sounds and ideas alike.
Shy Boy picks up the pace, injecting a strong dance vibe but juxtaposing this with a delicate voice that intrigues as it details the story of the boy. Beautiful harmonies wash over in a hypnotic fashion, laying bare something of a trip-hop inspired core that’s softly hypnotic. Once again, the voice captivates, featuring unexpected twists in melody and style – moments of subtle tremolo, rhythm changes, pace increases.
Lifting the mood a little is an unexpectedly bright and imaginative Have You Ever Wondered? As always, Isaiah connects the subject matter to the music in a profound way, allowing the entire expression of the song to work its magic – not merely the meandering freedom of the voice. There’s a touch of darkness later on, something that appears a few times throughout the EP, and is continued almost in sequel fashion across a shadowy, stop-start-driven Why Should I Care?
The title-track brings things to a decidedly dark and uncertain finish. Doubled vocals intrigue yet require perhaps a second visit for clarity of concept. Here the sound really finds its flow, offering a dash of Imogen Heap in the reverb and artistry, yet maintaining its own alternative dance-pop aura at the very same time. And still, Isaiah explores the topic in a uniquely unafraid, honest and compelling way.
A deeply personal EP, open to laying bare vulnerabilities both creatively and in terms of the intimacy of the lyrics.