The second full length from Mixed Matches continues the drowsy romance of last year’s “Late”, with some novel ideas that hint towards an expansion of his sound.
For a grouping of loose singles, “Late” is a stunningly beautiful album. The soft, sheer vocals provided by singer – producer Mixed Matches swirl around in various octaves, layered like veils; each piece of the composition papery and fleeting, but together forming a dense mesh of sound. “II” is the artist’s attempt to capture this energy with another curation of material, old and new.
Many of “II”’s shining moments are incremental improvements on Mixed Matches’ well established formula. The opener, “Nowhere”, is exceptionally dark, with brooding melodic tones that evoke a vengeful ocean in their deep and dynamically rich swirls of sound. Mixed Matches enters just before the glitchy, punchy drum line. Throughout the album, vocals retain the trademark angelic layering and mixing found across Mixed Matches’ discography. He displays a beautiful and original take on autotune-singing, key in forming the record’s atmosphere. On “Nowhere” the vocals are mixed in a way to highlight the lyrics, which set the tone for the rest of the record. “I’ll douse myself in kerosene, I’ll let you understand me, why do you feel like escaping this?” is a surreal and haunting image. “Nowhere” finds itself well positioned as an opener, despite originating as the middle track from the 2018 EP “Trinity_C”.
Instrumentally the project is mostly content to drift drowsily between slow, low-key atmospheric soundscapes and slightly speedier, more energetic trap-influenced beats. The whining, fluttering synths of “Idiot” add a sense of fun to the tape’s opening half, whereas the full, dominating bass of following track “Polar” subdues the listener, like musical melatonin. The trumpet-like melody of “Difference” is reminiscent of Ripsquadd, though the other elements of the track are far more subdued. The explosive melody of “Why” features what sounds like a harpsichord keeping pace with flustered drums, hi hats that choke and open up bar-on-bar. Bass tones function as a second melody, complimenting and counteracting the lead. The whole thing is delightfully confusing, and the artist cedes the spotlight to the production, whisper-singing softly.
It’s hard to pinpoint how “II” should be understood. Its release is that of a full album, and as an album it succeeds in being cohesive in tone and emotional temper. However, by branding the tape as a sequel to “Late” (as shown on twitter) Mixed Matches sets the two up to be compared, and whilst there are pockets of innovation, the album generally continues the sound of “Late” rather than expanding it. Being that both are compilations of older songs it’s obvious that they will share a certain character, but with the vibrant and malleable voice Mixed Matches has it’d be amazing to see some experimentation with mood and tempo.
This is not to say the content of “II” is weak at all, and where it shines it shines bright. The soaring vocals of “Leaning” instil a sense of awe. “Melatonin” plays out slowly, drenched in reverb like a sombre rendition of a C418 song. “Safer”, a collaboration with Fns, demonstrates Mixed Matches’ lyrical ability as well as “Nowhere” does; “Cos I think I’m caving in, and I don’t know where to begin” is obscure but affecting. “Lostinnewyork” is the aesthetic crown jewel of “II”. The changing cadences Mixed Matches brings are perfect amongst clean-cut kicks and surging, tidal pads which fill out the audible spectrum.
Mixed Matches brings a rare effervescence to his music. It is endlessly consumable, intoxicating, and soothing, and “II” is just the latest proof of this. It seems like a natural evolution to hope that in the future, he can make some moves to expand, to become endlessly unpredictable. If “II” can be this enjoyable as a compilation, Mixed Matches’ potential to create enlightening music in the future is limitless.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)