Earl Dawgit falls apart completely over seven gorgeously conceptualised tracks. Chris and Jamie of the 108MICS staff tackle the record with a rare double review.
This World is 2 Real 4 Me is a fascinating project. The way that the first song ‘Together & Forever’ lurches from a moment of quiet introspection to pure unadulterated chaos absolutely sets the tone for what is to come, and it only gets better from there.
‘In Heaven’ is a truly transcendent piece of music, Earl’s voice bleeding into the synth void as his world collapses around him. ‘Sun Froze’ is more whimsical-sounding, its post-punk tendencies revealing the artist’s skills as a songwriter. Lyrically, this album seems to reflect a desire to escape from the madness of modern society, on ‘Everything’s Okay I Guess’ the mantra of ‘Everything will be alright, everything will be ok’ is repeated as if to reassure himself that happiness is just around the corner. The bright, beautiful instrumental on this track and many others here represent a musical conduit for these emotions, despite the rawness of what Earl is saying on this album it’s actually his work on the boards here that allows the listener to truly understand the depth of his inner struggle. At under twenty minutes in length, Earl’s latest offering is the most impressive music that he’s ever made from both a technical and emotional standpoint.
“This World Is 2 Real 4 Me” is a desperate record, but it doesn’t sound like it from a distance. On third track “Sun Froze”, for example, the singer/producer utilises twangy digital strings to tinge the atmosphere with a pixelated warmness. Leaning in just a bit closer though, and Earl’s voice pushes through. “Is it tomorrow? I really don’t care. And then the sun froze…” is both fantastical and nonchalant. It’s as if Earl’s a background character in a Pixar movie, and has just noticed that the glossy world he lives in will never bless him with a story or motivation. In fact, he’s worked out that the world he’s in isn’t for him at all. The next song, the fittingly named “Everything’s Okay I Guess”, tries to make sense of it. “I’ll be waiting for you” calls Earl to nobody in particular; this gentle collapse betrays the explosive setup of “Together & Forever”, everything falling slowly with resignation and melancholy in equal shares. All of this from a man committed to a collective called “Sex Money” is confusing at first, but oddly sobering later. Earl’s outward and inward appearance challenge eachother
Nearly every track on “This World” is a struggle in some way. Earl’s vocals are delivered in a strained rasp, and this combines with the digitised production to heavily evoke the more synthetic Gorillaz tracks. “Everything’s Okay” ends with a reprise of its main hook and a long note release, similar to the masked sadness of “On Melancholy Hill”. “A Forest Is A Great Place To Hide A Tree” shares DNA with 2010’s “Empire Ants” but opts for a blend of trap and house rather than anything more orchestral. It keeps the pain immediate, and the audience close. Listeners become confidants, denied the safety of distance. “If Ur Still Here” is the frailest valley Earl reaches. Guest producer Lil Girlfriend uses under-pitched percussion, the hum of interference, and ghostly vocal samples to simulate the feeling of just barely making it through the day. Earl himself is barely audible, just about keeping pace, letting his words drag and fall and slide.
“In Heaven” feels like the record’s only true image of the artist’s inner torment, landing well before the audience realises the full extent of the damage. The beat plays like sanitised RipSquadd, smooth on all corners but just combustible enough to spark emotion. Earl glitches, screams, and stutters through resentful bars, his lyrics never catching up in impact to his delivery. Though the rest of the record is impassioned and gorgeous, the clipped end of “In Heaven” sees Earl repress his emotions and mask up once more, before trying to share his thoughts with a world too real to care.
Listen to “This World Is 2 Real 4 Me” here.