Fresh off of one of his best musical years to date, Florida rapper Lärs has crafted yet another beautiful project with Milo. Working in collaboration with his fellow Floridian Ruci, he delivers one of his most personal efforts to date.

Ruci’s role on this album as executive producer is something that he hasn’t attempted before, and yet he takes it incredibly naturally. Offering ten solo beats and two collaborative, the younger artist dabbles mostly in the slow-blooming, summer-tinged production that has been glimpsed largely on his solo work, and Lärs is the ideal artist for such vast, sprawling soundscapes. ‘Bungalow’ is a fairly comprehensive encapsulation of all the elements that make Lärs the rapper that he is: self-loathing narratives, entrancingly half-sung cadences, and flows that shift so sporadically that they create an incredibly tense, mind-bending atmosphere. ‘The Art of Self Destruction’ is similar, while Lärs’ raspily-sung bridge gives the song a major second wind the content of the first verse is as painfully vivid as the rapper’s music gets: ‘Wonder if momma considered abortion, I think of her daily, I live with the torment’.

Last year’s Molotov had all the hallmarks of a fully melodic release from Lärs, and this comes even closer. ‘Skyshift’ is almost entirely crooned, the rapper’s lovesick anthem accentuated by Ruci’s airy synth work and thumping percussion. It’s worth noting that Ruci also contributes vocally to this album, his feature on ‘Outlaw Star’ is brief but truly glorious and sounds all the better for being performed over his own production. Lärs really steps his bars up at the end of this song, it’s easy to imagine the rapper suddenly exploding into a fantastic verse after spending the track lamenting his loneliness. Truly, Lärs is an expert at shifting between moods and themes mid-song and he achieves this many times across Milo.

After a middle section that jumps from the bleak (‘Milo (My Low)’ to the wistful (‘Diamond’), and to the frustrated (‘Carnival’), the last three tracks tie the conceptual themes of isolation and loneliness together. Of these, single ‘Airplane Mode’ is the standout. Co-produced by Pies, the track dropped at the back end of last year and I’m incredibly glad that it made it on to Milo. Not only is it the longest song here by far, it also features the tape’s best feature thanks to a whirlwind rap verse from Mike Escanor. This is one of Lärs’ best pieces of music ever, not only because he’s matched by another truly talented MC but because the song’s groaned, inebriated hook is his greatest piece of songwriting to date.

If you’ve listened to any of Lärs’ projects before (especially the ones with a single producer working on every track) then you may know what to expect here, but Milo to me stands out because it represents a clear evolution in the rapper’s sound and is easily his most well-written set of tracks to see release so far. The fact that I said similar things about Molotov last year only goes to show how quickly this man is progressing with his music, and I would encourage anyone searching for an album that takes you on a genuine emotional rollercoaster and also sports a gorgeous sonic palette to give this release a try. Listen to the album here.

– Chris (@108mics)

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