“GLUEE,” the debut mixtape from Bladee, a member of the Swedish rap/electronic music collective Gravity Boys, is a tough pill to swallow. The mixtape’s opening track, “deletee,” is a 3-minute long iced-out autotune casserole where Bladee moans, “Gucci lenses on my eyes / Bank account match my clothing size.” Much of “GLUEE” is moaning–that’s the point. Part of the mixtape’s allure is in its otherworldly presence, which comes across both musically and lyrically. On “GLUEE,” Bladee is light-years away from reality, existing within a matrix of ice, clothing brands and internet culture – a world where his heartbreak is expressed through eternally frozen apathy. While it’s not entirely consistent, “GLUEE”’s highlights make the mixtape one of the most futuristic, original and intriguing musical recordings I’ve ever heard.

Admittedly, “GLUEE”’s front half contains its strongest material. On “eBay,” one of the best, if not the best track on the album, reverbed-out 808 snares and woodblocks create a cold, dystopian and claustrophobic setting–this is what music from the year 2199 sounds like. “Pulling up in electric cars / Sailor moon, falling stars / All I see is my avatars,” spits guest rapper Ecco2k on the track, sounding like a straight-up humanoid with layers of autotune and vocal processing. Another highlight is in the track “Spellbound,” a melancholy electro ballad which is more of a tortured ode to capitalism than to a human lover. It’s hard to tell whether Bladee is trapped or empowered by money, rapping “Snowboard on my MasterCard / I shine like a star / Coast guard, surfin’ Hollister / I’m in money world.” The track has a beautiful chord progression and some seriously poetic lyrics, making it one of the most chilling moments on the album.

While “GLUEE”’s back half is more of a hit-or-miss affair (the aimless “Freeze” could have been scrapped), it ends on a strong note with “Unreal,” the most human and vulnerable moment on the mixtape, yet also the hardest to understand Bladee on, with its layers of reverb and delay. Like the comedown from a massive high, “Unreal” is a return to cold, hard, confusing reality, and it hurts. Bladee’s vocal delivery on the track is righteously tortured, bringing to mind John Frusciante while still feeling entirely original. Hopefully “Unreal” is a sign of authenticity to come on Bladee’s upcoming follow-up mixtape, slated to come out this year.

Howard is a member of the class of 2017.



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