Review Summary: The Weeknd, Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, The Antlers and Aphex Twin walk into a bar...
With one performance, Alejandro Aranda became an overnight sensation.
I'm talking (of course) about his 2019 American Idol audition that went massively viral. Aranda, a seemingly mild-mannered and reserved solo musician, delivered an original song titled “Out Loud” that blended technically impressive fingerpicking with crooning, ethereal cleans that caused Lionel Ritchie to audibly gasp at what he was experiencing. The producers of the show must have been high-fiving once Aranda had finished playing; it was clear that he was a very special talent. Capitalizing on his new-found success, Aranda found himself having played seven
original songs by the time the finale came around. His uncanny ability to produce catchy melodies that captivated audiences around the word was simply extraordinary.
And then, he lost.
Just like that, the dream came and went. Aranda gave up his American Idol aspirations and opted instead to self-release his music under the moniker Scarypoolparty
. 2019's Exit Form
gave us a glimpse of his incredible genre-bending abilities, as well as including several songs that were already well known from his live performances on American Idol. Despite his widespread existing appeal, Aranda has decided to venture deeper away from any kind of a commercially attractive sound, instead opting to mix abrasive screams, industrial drums and unorthodox song structures into his pop sensibilities to create Doom Hologram
. The result is stunning.
This is one of the most ambitious attempts at crossing genres I've ever heard from any musician, let alone an artist that could have easily sold out to make millions performing knockoff John Mayer songs. Aranda delivers soaring choruses and memorable vocal lines, the drumming varies from simple rhythmic grooves to maniacal, industrial blasts, and the guitar work (thanks largely to Nick DePirro of Night Verses
) consists of crushing riffs and gorgeous harmonics. There is almost no way to predict where each individual track will end up; certain songs end up cycling though Aranda's entire catalogue of influences. Though this does carry the inevitable risk of coming off as too convoluted to some, the sheer depth of variety present in these forty-seven minutes is undeniable.
is a massive, sprawling labyrinth of a release. There are elements of alternative and industrial metal, R&B, pop, classical music, djient, dubstep – the list goes on. Aranda has pulled out all the stops to create a strikingly unique album, pushing the boundaries of multiple genres and leaving no experimental stone unturned. As if to throw out a red herring, "Return2Sender" lulls the listener into a false sense of security. This ultimately sets the stage for the album to gradually morph into an unrecognizable finale in "Paradox", where the most visceral and violent section on the album suddenly disappears back into pure atmospheric bliss.