Album Review: Mura Masa – R.Y.C. (2020)

If ever an album defined the word ‘alternative’, Mura Masa’s second album epitomises it. Building on the dance and hip hop elements of his first album, some of the songs on ‘R. Y. C’ (standing for Raw Youth Collage) could also be more likely seen on an acoustic record from any pop singer-songwriter (albeit an extremely good one).

I came for the collabs with Ellie Rowell of Wolf Alice, one of my favourite bands of all time, and Georgia, who’s breakout song ‘About Work The Dancefloor’ was playing in my ears most of last summer. ‘Live Like We’re Dancing’, while repetitive, doesn’t disappoint her own vocal ability, however, ‘Teenage Headache Dreams is the standout song of the whole album. It manages to combine both artist’s own style within a mid-tempo ballad, with both Crossan (Mura Masa) and Rowsell contributing a verse, before Crossan’s vocals become extremely robotic and Ellie’s own haunting, prophetic sound breaks through with a grand finale which could easily have been on Wolf Alice’s 2017 album ‘Visions Of A Life’. It somehow manages to merge two of my favourite styles of music and then give it a life of its own- while no one will listen to me over the awards nominations which both artists have received before, it just goes to prove how talented both Crossan and Rowell are.

‘Today’ feels more Mitski than Stormzy, but then ‘Deal With it’ (with slowthai) manages to capture both he and the British indie rock of the 2000s with great results. Not even the vibes of pop punk are safe from Mura Masa – just listen to ‘vicarious living anthem’. The first song I saved from RYC was ‘In My Mind’ – it manages to sound ethereal, yet still have deep break beats and a melody which feels like a telephone ringing. But hey, if the sounds in his head sound that good, can’t be complaining.

Having found Mura Masa through his ‘1 Night’ collab with Charli XCX, and it still being one of my favourite songs, it would be impossible to ignore ‘I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again’, with Clairo. I could say this was one of the best songs on the album, but I’ve said that about nearly every song on it. If I had gone into RVC having only heard ‘1 Night’, this would be most like what I expected to hear – and while I had heard of Clairo before this, I hadn’t taken the time to listen. I will definitely be doing that.

A mishmash of genres, along with some wonderful features all shaped around a relatable theme make this a brilliant second album. Will this one get a 2021 Grammy nomination, following his self titled album? Far too early to say, but I would support that: and yes, again it’s extremely early, but this is the best 2020 album I’ve heard so far.

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