New Jersey’s Arcuti shows popstar aspirations in his music, piecing together featherweight vignettes of emotion that come and go in a carefree world.
There’s something blissful about music that exists purely in the moment, and the discography of New Jersey multitalent Arcuti is a perfect example. As a rapper, singer, producer and engineer, Arcuti draws from pop rock influences to make each song its own fantasy, distilling pressurised themes into catchy hooks and forming bubbly, chirpy instrumentals to sing them over. He shines as a vocalist, with a strained delivery that recalls the emo bands that ruled the mid 2000s. Talent and an appealing easy-going attitude make Arcuti’s work a pleasure to explore.
“i don’t like going out anymore” is a wonderful introduction to Arcuti. The self-produced track features energised guitar lines and thumping, driving drums that keep the momentum high for the entire track. Various filters are applied to the ascending guitar loops, bringing dynamic variety to the relatively simple production. Arcuti’s vocal delivery is descending but not mournful; Arcuti sounds revitalised, newly healed and speaks from an aerial perspective. The lyrics condense the most adrenal and decadent aspects of night life; “sketchy guys doing coke in the bathroom, killing time, getting drunk ‘cos I have to” distills social anxiety into two lines swift enough to not slow the pace of the song. The hook continues with “drunken cries, and tribal tattoos, patron and lime, I don’t wanna be that dude but when can we go home?” Arcuti almost laughs through “4:21 on my wrist, can’t believe I paid ten bucks for this”, which brings some much needed humour to the verses. Overall “i don’t like going out anymore” is a wonderful example of negating negativity through sharp composition.
“SCHWEPPES”, a collaboration with Shabibs, does away with any low moods entirely. What remains is two and a half minutes of pure feelgood energy, a portrait of nonstop celebration. The hook centres around the refrain “sipping on schweppes with the captain”, accompanied by harmonisation and ad-libs in the higher octaves. “Captain” could reference both alcohol (Captain Morgan) and collaborator Shabibs, again demonstrating Arcuti’s compact and precise style of songwriting. The verses are a story of relaxation. There’s no grand concept behind “Sitting watching Boondocks, higher than a mountain” because there doesn’t need to be. Every piece of “SCHWEPPES” is essential, and this is especially true for the production. The beat is suitably refreshing, a bundle of synth notes bounce off of each other over superbly mixed bass. Additional melodies are formed from metronomic notes that pop like bubbles. Every piece of “SCHWEPPES” is essential.
“concrete” is “SCHWEPPES” counterpart, proving that Arcuti can handle heavier themes with a more serious tone if needs be. Still, the production allows for some sense of hope against the destitution of the lyrics; “staying out till the crack of dawn, another blackout, another moment gone” is desolate and lonely, an expansion of the typically concentrated emotional punches Arcuti delivers. Guitar chords rumble slightly, played in a nervous staccato. Vocals are dissonant, very slightly de-tuned to connote imbalance. The creativity featured on other songs is, of course, very much present. “Face down in a parking lot, trying to find my friends” stands out for its direct imagery. The hooks and verses merge together due to their similar delivery, leading to an inebriated atmosphere. An effect of hypnosis is created and then cut down by the harshness of the vocals. In keeping with themes of downfall and addiction each piece of the composition is at war with another aspect.
Arcuti’s work only reaches back to eight months ago, but there’s a massive amount of variety within it. The EP “texts you’ll never get” (entirely produced by Arcuti) opens with “cold sun”, with massive explosions of synths carrying a melodic performance from Arcuti and Shabibs. Also on the EP is “too late”, boasting a clean vocal recording undercut by electric pianos and double-time hi hats. Typically, the older cuts in an artists discography show less polish, but Arcuti defies this rule with “sleep when im dead”, which comes across muted at first until a massive bass hit unleashes the chorus. “No use in stopping me, my mental’s fucking spent” is a line that applies to Arcuti’s ethos in general. He comes across cynical, but not abrasive. He’s clearly jaded, but never blames the listener, instead inviting them to join him in tearing down not only his troubles but himself. It’s nihilistic optimism at its finest.
Arcuti is a deeply talented individual in many ways. His music connects emo lineage to modern pop and rap trends whilst confidently steering clear of kitsch. Arcuti is consistent between releases but always somewhat changing shape, transparent but somewhat mysterious; whatever musical avenue he chooses to pursue next, excellence is a guarantee.
Photographer: Anthony Duca
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)