If you were curious about the Trinidadian-Brooklynite, can’t-be-categorized artist, his November 4th studio album is now Soundcloud stream-ready. Yeezy-produced, Vibes embodies a Theo that gracefully dabbles in disco, trance, hip-hop, and probably five other genres.
In a semi-hipster Maxwell-meets-Kid Cudi amalgam, and with help from a ‘Ye custom beat-tailoring, there’s really no instrumental London can’t fit into. And whether his lyrical choice of the moment is the spouting off of martian-droned gibberish (“you ain’t even know it…it was waiting for you to tweet out your location/it shot alive in hemisphere to reach you, black and blue as the sky has a vortex…”) or something starkly obvious in contrast (“talkin’ about tonight, *I can feel you want me*, I can read the signs/*so take it farther*, galaxy arrives; be a heartbreaker…”) we don’t question the radical change of lanes.
Theophilus London pushes the message that radio-friendly aesthetics aren’t of prime importance to him…that he can dive into discordant weirdness whenever he so desires. And actually, the artistry of the 27-year-old anomaly lies precisely in his comfort of these ongoing mutations. (Sounds like someone else we know…).
But despite all of its ventures into lax beat-experimentalism, Vibes employs cohesion. With little other than a seductive, female-whispered “vibes” to occasionally notify us of song change, each track just kind of melts into the next.
Hip lounge-fit beats decorate the frame of tracks like “Water Me”, the EP’s groovy intro that houses Urban Hang Suite-reminiscent moments. London can vibe with Justin Timberlake-friendly, disco-synthed footing–as proved on “Get Me Right”, a teasing zap of extra-terrestrial funk. And there are Theo’s vintage pauses for hip-hop, like the Kanye-collaborated “Can’t Stop”, which boasts an ace set of bars–rendering a College Dropout/Late Registration flashback more than anything we’ve heard from the abstruse mastermind in the last few years.
Vibes stylishly exceeds low-bar sophomore expectations, but not just because of its executive producer. Theo flaunts his vast-spectrum influences, through moments of 90s hip-hop vinyl, modern EDM, approachable radio-R&B, and his own demiurgic concoctions. An album that really merits replay, Theo put out something special for anyone who wants to keep things diverse.