Malci’s songs feel more like spasms. The Chicago rapper jerks from phrase to phrase with little regard for structure or pattern; the thrill of a track like “When They Get Me” comes when the ear captures — sometimes a beat too late — the precise moment when the meandering shifts into the miraculous.
“I rap in all capitals,” Malci spits midway through the 90-second sprint that highlights his latest album, Papaya, but I’ll be a contrarian and say, well, not quite. He tosses capitals and other cases about these tracks with the free-associative abandon of a rapper who trusts his producer (i.e. himself) to do the necessary clean-up. The gyre widens, but the center somehow holds.
That’s thanks to a collection of beats that lean on a collage of field recordings and round, wet synths to build a base that can withstand Malci’s sputtering vocal solos. The results often skew jazzy, though I don’t get the sense of an ensemble playing in hard-earned lockstep. Papaya is the product of a singular vision. Its lived-in messiness is its own and, like the growling dog on the album cover, it perpetually threatens to claw through the fence.
Lexi Papilion isn’t the type to beat around the bushes. Following in the rich tradition of artists who wear their influences perhaps too proudly on their album sleeves, the LA artist went with Punk Adjacent for the title of her debut solo album as Bloodboy. The “adjacent” is what you’ll want to pay attention to, as Bloodboy is most interesting when carving around the margins of what she’s signaled the listener to expect. A case-in-point: Standout track “Can’t Go Home With You Tonight”. At first blush, it’s a mid-tempo pop ballad adjacent to many things you’ve probably heard before, but Papilion’s emotive vocal performance pushes this one into special territory.
The production doesn’t hurt, either. Producer Taylor Locke (Cullen Omori, Geographer) steers Papilion’s howling chorus into red-line territory, generating just enough fuzz to clear the cobwebs off lyrics that lean into the lust-meets-disgust phase of a doomed romance. In the hands of a lesser talent it could all come across as a bit pathetic; instead, somehow, I’m left with the image of Papilion staring down the sea with two middle fingers in the air. It’s not quite punk (or even punk adjacent), but it scratches the same stubborn itch.