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Brent Faiyaz - Lost EP Music Album Reviews

Amid newfound success, the soulful Los Angeles singer voices the anxieties of growing up and meeting creative expectations during turbulent times.

A year has passed since the tender 23-year-old songwriter and soul singer Brent Faiyaz released his breakthrough album, Sonder Son, a pensive and dreamy glimpse at his DMV-to-LA odyssey. During that span, he’s earned a Grammy nomination and the praise of Drake and Tyler, the Creator. But the title and tone of his follow-up, the six-song EP Lost, suggests that the singer who recently lamented his classroom troubles and anxieties about moving to Los Angeles in song still feels misdirected. Sharing a name with his label and crew, Lost ably embodies the isolation and anxiety of these tunes, with hookups and friends alike passing in and out of Faiyaz’s life. He seeks solace in self-reliance or companionship—any way out of feeling alone, really.

Lost is more vulnerable and succinct than Sonder Son, a charming introduction that probed his upbringing. It starts on “Why’z It So Hard” with an unflinching reflection on race and injustice. Over complicated crisscrossing harmonies and a beat that seems to droop beneath its own sadness, he reflects on being marginalized and degraded as a young black man: “Why they wanna see me dead?/I ain’t even grown yet/Baby, you got too much to offer/That’s prolly why they want you in a coffin.” He’s speaking to power dynamics that hover like a guillotine and how black brilliance is treated as a threat to white hegemony. During “Came Right Back,” his soft voice stretches over scintillating guitars and uneasy piano chords covered in static. The deconstructed ballad soon disappears into a conversation where Faiyaz ponders the burdens of promise. Lost is a wunderkind’s search for catharsis, a quest to find his voice while battling demons of self-doubt.

Faiyaz contemplates his relationships with loyalty and faith; he’s continually questioning or checking the intentions of others and himself, having recognized that social media has made the prospect of privacy during a rise toward fame almost impossible. With this in mind, the EP’s centerpiece, “Trust,” is its thorniest moment. Layered vocals and resentful ad libs haunt the track with grief and contention. “You told me I could trust you/And I could really use it,” he sings. He is disoriented, his voice splintering in multiple directions, a tree damaged by lightning. Instead of picking up the pieces himself, he searches again for comfort in a companion. “But I just wanna feel love,” he calls out, confessing he’s vulnerable with or without a connection.

Although he largely trades in the tender Spanish guitar licks of his past work for luxuriating synths and terse hi-hats here, Faiyaz continues to use skits and sound effects to give these songs context. The cries of sirens and the crackle of rain make the hardships of “Why’z It So Hard” clear. While he chats with his friends about his artistic progress amid the hum of passing cars during “Came Right Back,” we hear that, although the world around him brims with adversity, he’s proud of his trajectory and confident in his abilities. Rather than veil himself in anonymity to foster a sense of mystery, like the vintage version of the Weeknd, Faiyaz instead cozies up to transparency and vulnerability. He’s advocating not only for himself but others who may feel lost. As he poignantly reminds us during the unexpected spectral coda of “Poundz,” his voice powered by sudden conviction, “You can’t lose your faith/You can be what you want when you get older.”

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