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A love story through hip-hop is often told through vulgar remarks or some pretty vague storytelling. Kevin Abstract changes it up, his unique blend of alternative hip-hop and indie pop resonating fantastically in his new album American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story.
The album's pop sensibility falls in line with its lyrical prowess. This album isn't like other hip-hop releases you've heard this year. It's not centralized around the thick bass beats an fast, programmed beats. Genuinely interesting live instrumentation builds sonic soundscapes on this record, giving the album a leg above others. American Boyfriend kicks off with 'Empty,' an orchestral, cinematic intro leading into dinky piano chords that carry Abstract's vocals above fat brass in the verses. The choruses ring with harmonies and loving words from Abstract before going straight back into the stripped down verses. Abstract imitates girls he's dealt with in the past above synth arpeggios that carry it sweetly.
The best thing about this record is truly its instrumentals. Kevin Abstract is a genius in his own right. His voice is one thing, it's slightly raspy timbre sounding rich above the often sweet instrumentals, but his ability to create soundscapes is something else. 'Seventeen' features guitars as the prominent instrumental, ringing with loads of reverb to create the idea of a memory. Sweet Bon Iver harmonies build the song as it progresses, the instrumental constantly changing to accommodate the changing tenses. Towards the end of the record, 'American Boyfriend' keeps the album rolling, its soulful mood pairing amazingly with the electrifying guitar solo.
There's a lot of changing styles on the record. Things stay generally close to an indie vibe, especially in some of the singles. 'Yellow,' a song of wanderlust and love, rings brightly with fresh acoustic guitars and vocals harmonies as Abstract sings with a poppy vibe with a slight hip-hop edge to himself. The sweet drive of the beat pairs excellently with the other moving parts of the song, especially the keyboard solo at the end of the track. 'Tattoo' has a very barebones, American sounding instrumental, giving the whole "American love life" vibe some dimension in the middle of the record. He takes up a more hip-hop attitude on 'Blink,' edging away from the sweet indie vibes. Things take a soulful turn by the end of the record. with 'Miserable America' really selling that edge.
The only issue I really have with the record is that it feels a bit confused. The constantly changing tones sometimes don't transition too well, and some times when a good idea is presented it doesn't get fully developed. I'd love more songs like 'Seventeen' on the record, as well as 'American Boyfriend' styled tracks too. The interludes in between songs don't really add much to the album's narrative or mood, either, interrupting the momentum other tracks build up.
American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story is a great and refreshing hip-hop record, bringing alternative and indie pop vibes into one great, often overlooked narrative. It's a record about American love, not shadowed in extravagance but built from the purest emotions of the phenomenon. This is an album you can't miss out on.
Favorite Tracks: Seventeen, American Boyfriend, Empty
Least Favorite Tracks: Interludes, I Do
Rating: 79 / 100