I like full-lengths.
I wrote a bit about why here, but that’s not too important just yet. Friendzone, or Oakland residents James Laurence and Dylan Reznick, have floated somewhere in my general consciousness since earlier this year, when I fell in love with a couple of cuts that they’d produced – the Gigi Masin-sampling Chuch, for Main Attrakionz, and their stuttering, chiming backdrop for Deniro Farrar’s contrastingly gritty rhymes on Back/Forth/Back. Hunting around for further collected sustenance wasn’t easy, scattered as it was across a disparate series of mixtapes and EPs, so – and here’s the connect – news of a Friendzone full-length called DX (which ‘dropped’, as I believe popular parlance has it, yesterday) came pretty sweet to me.
Delineating the hip-hop instrumental is often as hazy a business as the tones contained therein, but where artists in a vaguely similar ballpark – say, Clams Casino or Blue Sky Black Death – opt for a classy meld of the organic and synthesised, DX is unabashedly clad in digital dayglo, a glorious neon mess of anime electro-vomit, churned up from electronica and hip-hop over the last couple of decades. It’s referential, if not reverential, of Aphex Twin (they’ve called a song RETAILXTAL, the cheeky scamps), could be said to filter Burial through Kanye (the former’s ubiquitous cut-up vox warped a la West’s autotuned chipmunk soul), and comes up something like if Baths’ Cerulean were a euphoric trap record. So, yeah, tough to pigeonhole, though far as I can tell ALL MY LIFE+ (and to a lesser extent, ANOTHER JAM FOR THE AGES~!) is basically a cover of Time After Time, which is to my mind one of the greatest songs ever. So that should help.
Despite Friendzone’s obvious penchant for the pretty, their ultra-modern (even trashy) electronic medium means that DX‘s many moments of sparkling beauty always come off surprising. The limpid piano on LUV YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING, for example, which cascades glittering in and out of those sliced, bent, bodiless voices, or the following 8AM, which sounds like a last dance for its titular time, slow swells mimicking the wistful horn lines of some forgotten Midwest emo troupe. As a consequence, Friendzone maintain across the length of DX the stoned, glowing gorgeousness that had me so enthralled by those first two cuts. And I’m pretty happy about it.
Friendzone have put DX in its entirety up on bandcamp, for a name your price download.