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Felt - Forever Breathes the Lonely Word Music Album Reviews

Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit the misanthropic pop perfection of the indie British band’s sixth and best album.
In November 1986, a writer for NME visited the flat of indie-pop enigma Lawrence. The mononymous musician lived in a quiet suburb outside of Birmingham, England, alone except for a collection of records, a set of first edition Kerouac paperbacks, and enough cleaning products to stock a small hospital ward. “A platoon of Airwick Solids stoically occupy strategic vantage points; the toilet bowl harbors not the usual one, but a breeding pair of those Cartland-pink santisers; a wicker basket provides a mass grave for spent aerosol air fresheners.” Since he rarely left the antiseptic apartment, Lawrence explained that his days were typically spent wasting time with mundane activities, like assiduously washing his floppy brown hair.

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Lil Tracy - Sinner EP Music Album Reviews

The young rapper’s typically erratic nature is missing from latest EP, instead he is just is hurried and sluggish.

The internet is special, not just because our entire lives revolve around it, but because Lil Tracy is allowed to exist there without much question. Online, Tracy has gone through the gauntlet of erratic name changes like Yung Bruh, Lil Tracy, Tracy, Tracy Minaj, then back to Lil Tracy. He once threatened on Twitter to shoot up his own concert, which was subsequently shut down by the NYPD; Tracy was then placed under psychiatric evaluation for a week. And whenever his loyal fanbase plead for new music, he normally responds by purposely giving them the songs they least desire, like when he dropped his country-rap track, “Like a Farmer”—which of course, became one of Tracy’s signature tracks. Tracy is a hip-hop personality who works best when he’s at his most confusing, which is why a straightforward EP like Sinner falls flat.

Since migrating from the Raider Klan offshoot THRAXXHOUSE—which featured rapper Key Nyata and Lil B’s main producer Keyboard Kid—into the cult phenomenon internet crew Gothboiclique—which includes members like Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, and the late Lil Peep—Tracy’s music has been unpredictable. Tracy’s success stemmed from embracing the style of Gothboiclique, which incorporated themes of heartbreak, death, and drugs, into production based around cheap guitars and eerie synths. He set himself apart from the other members by pulling cadences and flows from similarly turbulent internet icons like Lil B, Spaceghostpurrp, and Black Kray, and making them more accessible. But that erratic nature of Tracy is absent on the EP, exchanged for a rushed project that often sounds like a parody of Gothboiclique music.

On Sinner, Tracy’s lone moment of unpredictability comes on closer “LIL WHORE!” in which his disgust at his erasure from the legacy of Lil Peep manifests. It results in a track where Tracy is unleashed on a rant about how in the year since Peep’s passing he has gone from his closest collaborator to a footnote: “They separated me and my friend, that made me mad/Then they had the nerve to go and run off with the swag.” Disappointingly, the effect of the tirade is lessened by Tracy’s off-pitch vocals and a lazy instrumental that feels unfinished.

The remaining four tracks on the EP feature a Lil Tracy that doesn’t seem engaged—at all—in the music he’s creating. Songs like “tattoos,” capture none of the heartaching pain that initially drew so many to the cult of Tracy: “My heart is cold, I just wanna make you shiver.” When Tracy taps into his moody, death anticipating, sad boy lyrics like, “I feel like I’m gon’ die before my grandma,” he immediately upends it with an unbearable hook, “Used to ask my homies for a couple bucks/Now I’m onto better things chewing on zucchini.” The tracks that portray Tracy’s unstable personality best like “bacteria” and “heart,” lean too strongly on the amateur guitars which would work better as an element of the production, not the main attraction.

Part of the Lil Tracy experience is that occasionally a project as hurried and sluggish as Sinner sees the light of day. But Tracy is an artist impossible to reach a conclusion on, because as soon as next week or maybe a year from now he could impulse drop a mixtape that showcases the complete deranged personality of the rapper, like 2017’s Tracy’s Manga. Tracy just operates in his own headspace, which sometimes leads to aimless music, but, like always, he’ll eventually stumble into something.


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