Pushing boundaries while staying true to the playful kid inside...

Labrinth is a bit of a musical chameleon, you never quite know what he’s going to do next.

As well as his solo material, he has worked with a range of artists - demonstrating that chameleon-like nature - from Tinie Tempah and Emeli Sande to Sia, as well as providing the original score to hit HBO show ‘Euphoria’. 

Seven years since his debut, ‘Imagination & The Misfit Kid’ is his much-anticipated second studio album. Opening track ‘Imagination’ plays at only one minute and 30 seconds, but features dreamy vocals and pop culture references (“I spray paint Banksys”). It’s a hypnotic number that invites us to be open-minded for the rest of the album. 

The second track ‘Misbehaving’ jumps from being stripped back - just Labrinth and his piano - to a straight-up party vibe. It’s also something of a collage, with hip-hop elements here, Seventies influences there, and then some electro thrown in for good meausre. It’s experimental but he pulls off the sound he wants, all with a cheeky playfulness: “I’m buzzin’, I’m buzzin’/ Bartender keep the tab running”.

‘All For Us’ is heavy in its production, layered with plenty of auto-tuned backing vocals, then the direction switches up again with ‘All For Us’ - a much more heartfelt number than previous tracks. Meanwhile ‘The Producer’ is gospel-inspired with nods to Kanye West (incidentally, Labrinth actually worked on a track for Kanye’s ‘Jesus Is King’ record). 

'Something’s Got To Give’ is a joyful, euphoric and inspirational track - “When the going gets tough / Gotta give a little more” - ‘Like A Movie’ is back on the party vibe, with a beat that's reminiscent of an ‘80’s video game, while showcasing Labrinth’s vocals. ‘Where The Wild Things’ is far more laid back, until Labrinth exclaims, “Put your f*cking glasses up” and the beat drops, hard. Closer 'Oblivion’ feels like his way of explaining the album and concluding it.

With ‘Imagination & The Misfit Kid’ Labrinth has certainly tried to push boundaries, while staying true to that “misfit kid” within - having plenty of fun with his sound.

7/10

Words: Narzra Ahmed

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