Jordan Rakei
Wallflower


4.0
excellent

Review

by Connor CONTRIBUTOR (47 Reviews)
September 29th, 2017 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: a comfortable sojourn

I’m always slightly suspicious whenever Spotify not-so-sneakily repeatedly suggests an artist to me, as if they are trying to get to know me a bit too well. I can’t really complain too much despite the implied, chilling ramifications behind the matter, as the faithful app has introduced me to yet another cordial musical acquaintance. Jordan Rakei, an up-and-coming R&B artist from New Zealand, is this week’s marketing success, but the music accompanying the artist helps me forget about the outside factors for just a moment. At least, when Rakei lets himself go free, the escapism mindset pleasantly snuggles it’s way in my brain through the buzzing headphones. Psychedelic-kissed highlight ‘Sorceress’ embodies the ideal of complete sovereignty as the song loses itself within a swirl of recycled melodies and floating synth lines. At times, though, the music admittedly feels a bit too manufactured towards that sought after line between trendy chill-rap and boundary-pushing individuality. When Wallflower lets its intentions become a bit too obvious, like in the Weeknd-esque opening lullaby seen in ‘Eye to Eye’, it’s almost as if you can see the advertising ploy push its way into that iPhone screen. Yet, it’s hard to get too cynical when the song itself immediately takes a 90° turn into the off-kilter and detached, yet gorgeously composed jazz arrangement. Simplicity is realized in the repeated, lifeless delivery of “we don’t see eye to eye…”, a naturally haunting experience which is breathtakingly evocative due to its unrestrained, unwavering presentation.

As a whole, though, the album is enticingly delicate and smooth. Rakei’s voice is charming and silky, albeit not much different from many other artists within the genre. Yet, he distinguishes himself from his counterparts through his masterful manipulation of tone and his ear for supplemental production techniques. Throughout the course of the 11 floating tracks, he’s able to showcase an impressive ability to subtly bolster his own voice through trippy modulations and circling reverberations. Although, when stripped-down, the accompanying music is on the backburner, when it gets a chance to blossom it blooms in a brilliant array of over-saturated petals. Gently picked guitar lines blink their way into the lively pond Wallflower resides in while tasteful artificial interventions in the form of synth pads help highlight the elegant landscape. All of this would be pleasant in passing alone, but Rakei’s intuition for writing an engaging hook gives you a reason to stop the car and pull over. This is seen within the bluesy, moody ‘Nerve’, a simple pop arrangement that is, for once, correct in falling for the trendy genre as the chorus is the definition of infectious. ‘Goodbyes’ is fundamentally the same, except it falters due to its overconfidence in the vocal melody alone, but in a way it helps re-shine a light on the album’s strengths. It’s an album concerned firstly with itself, a selfish endeavor yet a thoughtful one, and while it does seem a bit synthetic, it only fails when it conforms to popular demand. I don’t see self-indulgence as an issue, in this case, because it’s a self-aware attempt and a pleasant exploration into the thoughtful, love-stricken mind of Jordan Rakei. He consistently weaves his way in between the fabrics of his own identity in a gracefully calming fashion which is frankly, goddamn pleasant to listen to. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter why you set out on the journey if the resulting experience helps you forget there’s even a finish line in sight.



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user ratings (3)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
September 29th 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey I'm back I guess, stream the album here: https://jordanrakei.bandcamp.com/album/wallflower

was pleasantly surprised by this new release my spotify and my friend's spotify shoved at me hahaha. also constructive criticism is welcome

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 1st 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh hey sput is back

AsleepInTheBack
October 1st 2017


4939 Comments


Loooovely review. Your prose is so tight these days. Spiritual pos.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 1st 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks asleep, strange timing on this review posting tho RIP

theBoneyKing
October 1st 2017


12337 Comments


Great review con.

Came across an oldish p4k interview that has some similar comments on the topic of Spotify recommendations: https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/1035-how-to-listen-to-music-better-according-to-every-song-ever-author-ben-ratliff/

Digging: Destroyer - Kaputt

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 1st 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks for this boney, interview is def rly interesting and weird that u ran across it after I reviewed this. all hail spotify hahah

BlushfulHippocrene
October 2nd 2017


1916 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Can I be honest, Connor? There was a time when I didn't like your writing. Keep in mind, this was months and months and months ago - looking at your list of reviews, it was years ago, in fact (2014/15). But nevertheless, there was a time. This, however. This is what I love to read. You've become easily one of my favourite writers on this site, and I hope to God you don't stop. Fantastic work, I'm so glad I didn't miss this review. This sounds like something I'd dig. Will report back.



One thing I'd say, though, is to watch out for hyphens. "Up and coming" is usually written as up-and-coming for instance. Just something to keep in mind when you string together adjectives and adverbs; I realise it's a miniscule issue, haha, it's just something I've been making myself aware of, too.

Digging: Jess Locke - Universe

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't like my writing either so that makes two of us dude hahah. but jesus blush this brightened up my night, honestly. out of sheer curiosity, what review of mine was the turning point for you (hopefully ur opinion matches up with mine in my conthousand list)

also thanks, will slip that edit in (:

BlushfulHippocrene
October 2nd 2017


1916 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It's difficult to pinpoint. I suppose it was quite gradual. However, I know I liked, for instance, the Gambino review; I loved the Old Gray review (and pretty much everything since); I loved the Ride review; I love this review. Haha.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah altho I kinda like my Foxing review the Bino one is a nice "turning point" review I totally agree. the fact that you're able to have preferences for my reviews blows my mind tho blush you're too awesome hahah

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

how can I find a reason to love ya, when I dont love myself?

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 4th 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

listen to this pls, this guy bout to blow up trust me

BlushfulHippocrene
October 5th 2017


1916 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

(oh no i'm finding this super boring on first listen im sorry will listen a few more times before deciding my opinion could change)

BlushfulHippocrene
October 5th 2017


1916 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah, I don't like this at all. :/ I hope more people listen, I think they'd love it.

danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
October 5th 2017


11538 Comments


I hear Kaya Thomas-Dyke has a feature on this, i love her on Alfa Mist's record so much. Rakei himself seems to work on-again-off-again with Alfa so i should definitely be giving this a listen.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2017


19202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

shoot blush! oh well not for everyone.

but i had no idea dan! sounds like a reason to peep this (:



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