midwxst – E3

A debut album that speaks to his fans...

midwxst is an internet phenomenon, an artist capable of speaking to fans – and there’s a colossal amount of them, located around the globe – in a language they recognise, and find familiar. Mastering the modern template of constant content, he’s delivered EP after EP, with his rap-rooted songwriting smothered in glossy, hyperpop effects. The results are startling: eye-watering streaming figures, colossal social media numbers, and songwriting that cuts deep into old wounds.

‘E3’ is his long-awaited debut album, and it doesn’t stray far from his template. The lyrics are heartfelt – ‘heartache blues’ and ‘hate how much’ deal with matters of the heart, ‘old me’ yearns for personal change – and the musicality is bold, his sights set on huge arenas. There’s an air of predictability, however, alongside a sense that Midwxst has yet to truly break free of his influences, and stake a claim for ground of his own.

It starts brightly for the Indianapolis artist. ‘lost’ is a short opening statement, while ‘pretty girls’ manages to move from late 90s alt production aspects through to jazz meanderings. Those unexpected aspects are few and far between, however, on a record that distils his approach down to its finest aspects: ‘warning’ couples Millennial gloss to digi-production, while ‘lights out’ matches a tale of regret to chorus-drenched guitars.

Short, punchy, and to the point, ‘E3’ feels tailormade for fans. ‘ball & chain’ epitomises his half-spoken flow, while songs like ‘s.f.b.’ – a tale of love gone wrong – or ‘like nah’ are almost diaristic in tone. Expanding outwards while remaining true to his core elements, Midwxst is able to scale up without losing sight of his values. When ‘E3’ clicks into place it undeniably works – ‘hate how much’ is a ready-made anthem, while closer ‘ready for you’ blends woozy piano aspects to trap-leaning vocals.

At times bold, ‘E3’ more often returns to familiar ground. The album format affords Midwxst additional space to work with, but there’s a feeling of tentative step forward, rather than radical leaps. Reaffirming his sound, it works perfectly as a message to fans, while leaving the lingering feeling that an evolutionary jump awaits.


Words: Robin Murray

Related: BACK IN ACTION – midwxst interviewed

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