BOOTS you may not know, but his work you definitely will. Subtly renowned for his work across Beyonce’s critically-acclaimed eponymous fifth album, and more recently for contributing to Run The Jewels’ latest project, as well as FKA Twigs’ M3LL155X. Metacritic-ally speaking (85/100, 89/100, 89/100 respectively) this gives BOOTS one hell of a track record, the real question is wether this quality would be continued onto his debut album- Aquaria.
Contortion and distortion are heavy features of Aquaria. BOOTS’ most notable talents were unclear before listening, and this project doesn’t make that task any easier. Wether he’s rapping, singing or producing, the veiled sheltered aesthetic to Aquaria is heavily prominent. The feedback-fueled, blurred haze that is this album labours along complete with heavy Portishead-esque drum patterns and warped R&B influences. Contrapuntally perfected sound bites and shuddering reverb effects pull and push the project into avenues of Justin Timberlake, then recoil and seek shelter within the annals of trip hop and James Blake-like electronica.
Aquaria is a tasked listen, an instantly complicated album that shakes and shivers through the unknown. Dread-driven songs like the title track consume any shred of positivity, agonisingly laboured, trudging onwards towards its symphonic and floaty finale in the form of Still, passing the Radiohead-recalling Only on the way. The multi-talented, and multi-instrumentalist BOOTS has given me a lot to think about with the release of Aquaria, more so that I’m still not sure how I feel about it. A deeply layered and tirelessly constructed piece of music, just not the sort of thing to listen to if you’re feeling down.
Verdict – WWWV