NNAMDÏ – Please Have A Seat

A genre-soup that thrives on freedom...

NNAMDÏ is in the business of self-reflection. This might appear premature for an artist whose recent 2020 success with LP ‘BRAT’ brought him on the road with Sleater-Kinney, Wilco, and black midi. Yet, his new LP Please Have A Seat is somewhere around his twentieth solo project. His scroll of a resume includes drumming in math-rock project Monobody, playing bass in Lala Lala, and co-owning Sooper Records, so it’s no surprise he’s a bit fatigued. As he states in album opener ‘Ready To Run’ he “fought his way for a seat by the throne,” but his legs are heavy; his knees are buckling atop the narrow pedestal and collapse is imminent. For his own sake, it’s time to relax. And lucky for you, listener, you’re invited to join him in musical meditation. So please, would you have a seat?

NNAMDÏ has always been the conductor of his own experimental symphony; coming from the Chicago DIY scene, he still, to this day, literally does it all himself as he wrote, produced and performed every sound found within ‘Please Have A Seat’. This totalitarian creation yields a genre-ridden soup with a math-rocky base, pungent rap flavorings, and dollops of synth seasoning. It tastes so good, you can hardly tell that what you’re really ingesting is just a new breed of innovative pop.

And no one is bigger poptimist than NNAMDÏ. His one requirement for ‘Please Have A Seat’ was that “every track had to be hummable.” Lead single ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Famous’ is a buoyant exemplar with trap-like midi drums guiding the repeated tongue-in-cheek memo: “I don’t really wanna be famous / I just want a million blue faces / I just want a million new fans and plays / Then I wanna ride that massive wave.”

NNAMDÏ – Please Have A Seat

NNAMDÏ’s cognisant of the contradiction, and throughout the album wrestles with all sorts of duality, most apparent, the acceleration of his career verse the need to slow down and put the breaks on. Because soon, he might crash.

On ‘Armoire’ he raps over aerial synth how he’s ”riding / moving in motion now,” and “Made a decision to / Tunnel my vision,” but at the same time the schizophrenic ‘Careful’ finds him battling himself over sweet acoustic melodies, cinematic strings and skirtish,staticy lead guitar while repeating through pitched adjusted vocals to be “Careful not to let yourself burn out.” Thrashing alt-pop track ‘Dedication’ is the pulse of this polarity: the impossible decision of fight or flight. “Something told me I should stay” he sings over rhapsodic electronics. But then again, he could “Fight fight fight fight through the pain.”

Overall, NNAMDÏ is speaking to himself throughout the record as tracks weave between monologues of self-direction and observation, without offering one real solution. Final song ‘Some Days’ offers just a tiny glimmer of hope. He repeats the opening track’s lyrics and riffs but deviates with inky synth and one closing platitude: “I’ll stick around for you.”

Although a rather formidable theme, NNAMDÏ delivers his most succinct and capital P pop album yet. The Outkast meets PUP tracks swirl like the ballerina in a music box, twisting with a swift, effortless routine, only to be wound up and played again, and again. So, we should only be so thankful that he’ll stick around both for the fans, and for himself.

7/10

Words: Sam Small

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