The Drain Gang CEO makes a bold statement about originality and deterring imitation with a synth-drunk ballad about self-certainty and unsure love.
Earlier this month a group known as Deerpark Knights sparked discussion when a clip of their song “M0rPhIn3” was posted, with some criticism, on Twitter. The group (which, at least to some degree, appear to be toying with the disdain people hold for them) were labelled as “drain gang clones” by user @dazegxd1 and accused of “stealing” by musician Braxton Knight. Realistically the Deerpark Knights weren’t putting out anything offensive – the song from the Twitter clip actually seemed somewhat listenable – but from their vocal inflection to their cover art a clear, conscious and crushingly heavy Drain Gang influence was present – at least before they decided to privatise all their songs on Soundcloud.
In any creative field, cloning is going to happen. What should interest anyone who comes across Deerpark Knights is that we’ve reached a point where the newer, cheaper style of Bladee’s music (as heard on 2018’s “Icedancer” and singles such as “Trash Star”) can be effectively and accurately replicated. Furthermore, myriad artists have risen by using and adapting elements of the Drain aesthetic rather than outright copying. “Girls just want to have fun” is Bladee’s way of shrugging off the concepts that inspire his followers, an acceleration of his constant experimentation and remodelling. The shock of such a sudden turn has exposed just how tightly many have been holding on to the precedent Bladee’s setting.
“Girls just want to have fun” is unpredictable. In his first non-feature appearance since 2019’s “Trash Island” Bladee only appears for around 40 seconds, substantially less time than his recent appearances on “Love Goes On” with Hannah Diamond or “Blue” with Sickboyrari. Still, Bladee’s verse on “Girls” is gorgeous. As always Bladee doesn’t give his music too much thought, slight imperfections are left in consciously – more a sign of honesty than laziness. He sings in an alien falsetto, never reaching the extreme soprano now signature of Ecco2k, but higher than any performance he’s given so far. Lyrically he guides the song’s cryptic artwork and compact synth-pop beat to a thematic centre; “Flowers bloom, never ending, story of my life, ballad of my sins” echoes the prismatic bliss of last year’s “Let Me Go” whilst escorting Ecco2k into the mix. Whitearmor does a fantastic job not only with production, but with the mixing too – the harsh autotune Bladee uses could easily ruin the dreamy atmosphere of “Girls”, but Whitearmor’s layering and use of reverb rounds the more jagged edges.
Ecco2k is stellar. He glides across the top of the mix on clouds of reverb, reaching extreme high notes and staying there. The few moments where his pitch drops reawaken the listener from the trance. Ecco’s lyrics balance the faith and nature of Bladee’s verse with uncertainty, singing “Let me go, you can’t hold on to a ghost, I fold, fold, fold so close”. It’s essentially the same sentiment as on “Obedient” or “Sugar & Diesel”, but Ecco sounds particularly at home wrapped in the stratospheric tones he creates.
With the existence of “D6” and “Heartbreakers” (the two records Bladee was supposedly working on) now in question, there’s not much in the way of predictions for the Swedish creative. Whether the music that does eventually release has more or even less substance than “Girls just want to have fun” is impossible to say. Maybe Bladee is in for another quiet year, another year of watching and waiting, and figuring out new ways to ambush his audience and imitators alike.
Listen to “Girls just want to have fun” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)