Review Summary: mid 00's dance-pop bursting with chaotic energy
The other day I had one of those shuddering realizations that remind you that you’re getting old: college freshmen will be attending Y2K themed parties in the fall, where they will dance to songs like “No Scrubs” and “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” chart hits from before they were born. Dressed in denim cut out jeans and shiny tops, they will recreate party scenes they’ve only known through YouTube and feel a euphoria that’s worlds apart from the downbeat hip-hop currently topping the charts. It’s strange to admit, but dance-pop is no longer popular music. Millennials that grew up on Kylie Minogue and NSYNC have to look past the mainstream to get their nostalgic fix. The rise of internet subcultures and a decade of poptimism has created the micro popstar, where Carly Rae Jepsen can flop commercially and still sell out venues due to critical adoration and a cultish fanbase.
Slayyyter was five years old when “I’m A Slave 4 U” dropped and announced Britney’s sexual awakening. That path led to “Toxic” and culminated in the hedonism of Blackout
. Slayyyter’s thrilling debut harkens back to that sound with added chaotic energy. Britney’s back, and now she’s having sex in a pink convertible racing down a neon highway. Let me cut to the point: this mixtape is loaded with hardcore bops. It’s a dopamine rush of everything that makes dance-pop amazing, music that makes you feel like a superhero 3 minutes at a time. Slayyyter goes all out, making it easy to forget she’s an independent musician and these songs won’t actually conquer the world. The production maintains the illusion: flashy and maximalist, there’s a ferocious bounce here that makes every moment compelling. While the aesthetic might come across as post-ironic (see the cover art), Slayyyter avoids the trappings of PC Music by referencing a mid 00’s sound in earnest. There’s an inherent silliness to these slutty pop bangers, but there’s no time to reflect on that in the midst of full-throttle escapism.
There’s more than throwback here: “Alone” and “Daddy AF” stand out in how they integrate influences from the modern scene. The former drills with glitch and deconstructed club, a bad trip where you regret not vetting the party drugs. The latter is a rare misstep, a prominent trap beat highlighting the weak composition in spite of the trashy fun. There’s a bubblegum bass pulse to the record’s more hyperactive moments, although it never veers into SOPHIE-esque territory. A major standout is “Devil” with Slayyyter in maneater mode, a stomping beat building to an utterly explosive chorus, drums falling like bombs on the poor guy caught in the crosshairs. “Mine” plays with sugar-coated future house, the nasally vocal take serving as a formidable earworm. Highlights abound, and I find myself ping-ponging around the tracklist trying to inject all the hooks into my veins.
This is immaculate pop, but it won’t launch Slayyyter into pop stardom. At best the internet buzz brewing over this release will make her a minor cult figure, and we’ll anticipate her next project like we do Jepsen’s. In the meantime, all I wanna do is sneak into a Y2K frat party and slot one of these tracks between “Toxic” and “Hollaback Girl,” then watch a younger generation relive the elation and optimism this music once provided us. I doubt they’ll tell the difference.