serpentwithfeet – GRIP

The LA singer-songwriter cajoles the listener with a sexy, sonorous offering....

An exploration of queer love and lust, Los Angeles-based artist serpentwithfeet balances sultry seduction with a sonic blanket of softness and safety on his latest offering, ‘GRIP’.

‘GRIP’ marks the third trophy in serpentwithfeet’s discography, following 2018’s ‘soil’ and 2021 release ‘DEACON’, but the Baltimore-born artist’s trail of work is lengthy outside of their own releases. A polished continuation of his sound, Wise has also been awarded a Grammy nomination for his contribution to Björk’s ‘Fossora’, alongside numerous collaborations with the likes of Daniel Caesar, Sampha, Ellie Goulding, Moby, Mick Jenkins, Virgil Abloh and Kelela. 

Initiated with opener ‘Damn Gloves’, the thematics dive into regular spheres of desire and romance with no hesitation or metaphor, angled at the trials and tribulations of LGBTQA+ love and expression. ‘Damn Gloves’ features Ty Dolla $ign and Yanga YaYa in a slick and well-executed introductory take, divided into three distinct thirds that transition effortlessly into the next.. On the album’s second track, the artist Josiah Wise summarises: “‘Safe Word’ is a sensual song about the beauty of trust that’s been earned and the wonder that follows when partners explore each other with care.” Delivered in a soft auto-tuned croon, the lyrics meld further melancholy into the pot, atop gentle R&B and trap rhythms. 

Wise’s third release offers a 360 trajectory into romance, acceptance and optimism. It’s a transformation to deliciously, bracingly unabashed pop. Historically, serpentwithfeet has been known to integrate gospel and classical training with earnest and honest lyricism, a notion also woven throughout ‘GRIP’. It may be a short run, with all tracks falling short of the four minute mark, but this doesn’t detract from its complexity or strength. The snappy track listing prevents filler, avoids waning interest and sets a consistent pace for its entirety. 

At its core, the essence of ‘GRIP’ can be summarised in whimsical classical guitar sections which underpin a series of celestial synths. It’s an imagined sound of the cosmos; an ode to the quest for modern love in a late-night haze. From the soft and delicate murmurs of ‘Hummin’, with its layered hushed vocals and descending arpeggiated piano scales, to the millennial humour of ‘Run/Throwback’, Wise’s third record is a glossy-smooth addition to a stellar discography, oozing with infectious melodies, tempered production and lashes of sex appeal.


Words: Maddy Smith

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