Image: Lucas Creighton.
Kevin Abstract has always been a formidable musical force. Whether under Brockhampton or his solo musical output, each carefully crafted record pushes the boundaries showcasing expert musicianship. His fourth studio album, Blanket, is no different. Laced with reinvention, we’re presented with a dynamic body of work that leans away from the musicians hip-hop, pop and R&B roots, instead charting into new sonic territory. The result is a rock-leaning body of work that will transport you to the grunge days of the 90’s.
Having tapped longtime collaborator Romil Hemnani, multi-instrumentalist Jonah Abraham (Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red), Tyler Johnson (Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran), Kid Harpoon (Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus), John Carroll Kerby and more on production duties, there’s a palpable tension pouring through Blanket. Opening with Nirvana-esque guitar chords, When the Rope Post 2 Break sets the scene for the engaging listening experience that is to follow. Abstract’s hushed performance haunts above a moody soundscape as he moves between spoken word and captivating melodies, before the albums title track Blanket warps all your senses and propels you into the musicians new sonic palette. Heavy guitars and raucous percussion break loose as Abstract cries out atop. It’s clear early on in the record that there’s a meticulous attention to detail, with each instrument, melody and production choice serving a solid purpose to drive the experimental nature of Blanket.
The album finds its more pop-leaning moment with Running Out, a track that documents unrequited love, and Madonna, an uplifting song that marks a brighter turn within the album. Today I Gave Up pairs more somber lyricism with a light rock soundscape, whilst The Grey and Voyager weaves together a variety of Abstract’s influences and sounds to create a genre-bending moment infused with notes of rock, grunge, pop and R&B. There’s a slight outlier in What Should I Do?, a more relaxed and breezy cut that sonically deviates from the albums overall rock-based presence. It almost serves as a palette cleanser before the face-melting warped sounds of Mr. Edwards, which pulls you back into a rapturous realm. We return to the albums mellow side on Scream and Real 2 Me, showcasing the more melodious side of Abstract’s vocals, followed up by Heights, Spiders, and the Dark which echos the grunge presence on When the Rope Post 2 Break. Albeit with a prominent, almost Johnny Cash-inspired acoustic guitar line that cuts through the songs beguiling soundscape. As Blanket comes to a close, we’re presented with the most vulnerable moment of the body of work; My Friend. Featuring Kara Jackson and MJ Lenderman, there’s an intimacy powered by the songs acoustic nature and the harmonic unison of three distinct vocal tones coming together.
Thematically, Blanket finds the musician recalling on past memories and fleeting moments. whilst exploring the cyclical nature of life and the anxiety surrounding finality. Some tracks pull back lyrically to allow the compositions to take centre stage, however there is a nuanced take on love, relationships and sexuality, perfectly captured through Abstract’s poignant-meets-poetic lyricism. His multi-faceted performance brings each song to life, breathing in an electrifying energy that oozes with charisma and potency.
Blanket is out now!