Making a beautiful mess of anonymity
Courtesy of Complex
Absent. Alluring. Absolute. “ANONYMOUS.”
blackbear’s fifth studio album returns the artist to the forefront of hip-hop music in a whopping 18-track record that perpetuates an ironic perception of yearnful apathy – of both hope and hopelessness.
With five supporting singles, “HIGH1X,” “SWEAR TO GOD,” “HATE MY GUTS,” “1 SIDED LOVE” and “DEAD TO ME,” “ANONYMOUS” had teased the sound of a more sophisticated blackbear. Listeners are presented with an artist who has drawn from the elements of his early releases such as “Deadroses” and “Help,” while at the same time incorporating the powerful, heart-thumping baselines presented in his previous billboard success, “Digital Druglord.”
The album revolves around the themes of love and loss that have become typical of the blackbear style. The music emphasizes the artist’s relationship to these notions of absence and longing, and of a lingering, constant desire for love – or perhaps the illusion of love – that is felt through the significant physical and emotional contact with another.
From beginning to end, the album reflects on a love gone sour – when the love of your life is gone, the remnants of them linger, leaving you bitter, resentful and cold. You’re left to contemplate the what-ifs that could have resulted had it not been for the frustration of a “1 SIDED LOVE.”
Presenting the downfall of love in a sort of chronological order, beginning with tracks like “MAKE A MESS,” “CHANGES,” “HEARTBROKEN” and “LOSING YOU,” the album begins to conclude with “DEAD TO ME.” The chorus of the song begins to separate the lost person from the narrative of love, ending on a broken, seemingly apathetic note, “Somebody that I used to know is dead to me / Think less of me, you’re dead to me.”
After presenting the timeline of a relationship seemingly doomed from its conception, the album finally concludes with a contrast to the narrative of loss exhibited in the earlier tracks of the record. “ANOYMOUS” ends with a beautiful, emotional throwback to blackbear’s earlier years – a track that serves as a nod to the artist’s rocky, unstable beginnings.
One of the most impactful tracks on the record, “NYLA” shares with the listener the set of emotions and inner turmoil that results from a long-distance relationship, emphasizing the pain and heartache that comes with being unable to connect with the person worthiest of your affection, desire and passion.
The ending track closes out “ANONYMOUS” with nuance, reminding us that from New York to LA, love can always be but one plane ride away.