Trying to find a succinct way to describe this Mura Masa album R.Y.C is quite difficult. It isn’t just the sort of playful electronic music found in the middle of the 2010s. It isn’t just the sort of alternative pop and rock that he went after on his 2017 self-titled debut. It is all of that and more with grime, punk and rock made into an album that constantly morphs and evolves with each song like the Agent Smith in Matrix.
There is a wavering line that connects these his first project in 2014, Soundtrack To A Death, 2017’s self-titled album and now R.Y.C. Soundtrack To A Death was built around shimmering melodies and sturdy percussion that was both fun, easy listening and often danceable. Mura Masa blended sugary pop with indie rock, going for broke with big name collabs like A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX & Jamie Lidell. Now R.Y.C. supercharges all of that into something that resembles the past, but also forges ahead into something quite different.
That is evident from the start on the title track “Raw Youth Collage” that feels like the intro for a Brooklyn indie rock band’s album. That carries into the bleak “No Hope Generation” that dives into the shitty living circumstances that face youth today from screen addiction, violence and substance abuse. His song with Clairo is one of the hits of the record with crunchy guitars and distortion on Clairo’s vocals that add extra bite to the song.
There is a brief interlude where Ned Green tells the story of a naked escape from a girl’s room after her father came home. “Deal Wiv It” is quite possibly the most British piece of music ever.
The vocal distortion that was popular in the 90s and aughts is found heavily on this record. R.Y.C brings to life the crunchy punk and rock found from the 90’s with 2000’s indie rock without sounding reductive.
The album plays heavily on the ideal of youth, the power and trappings of nostalgia and how hope can be morphed into whatever the person wants. As Mura Masa said in a statement about “Teenage Headache Dreams,” happiness can exist “even if it means relying on something that isn’t necessarily true, or is half-imagined, or might not even have happened at all. If we can find a shared remembrance of a good time, we’re more likely to be able to find that again. A little bit of escapism is healthy.”
“Teenage Headache Dreams” lives in the joy, hope and middling sorrow that exist for the young – a constant since the beginning of time. Upbeat and funky, “Live Like Were Dancing” feels like the fun that is supposed to be life as a youth.
Teenage angst, young love and all of the clichés that are rightfully parodied in Not Another Teen Movie become the themes of this album without going overboard. Lyrics are subtle in their intent, without showing too much about the topic.
R.Y.C was made by a producer who cut his cloth in dance music, but this album leans only slightly on that. It is pop, rock, punk and even a little rap. R.Y.C is the continued evolution of an artist who can adapt like a chameleon to his fellow artists and seems to remake himself in remarkable ways with each passing release. Mura Masa has outdone himself with this album and it deserves to be called his best work yet.
Pick up your copy of the album here and stream below.