The past decade has seen the increased propagation of what could broadly be labelled ‘EDM’ or more broadly, just ‘Electronic Music’ through the internet, a format which implicitly imbues it with a greater credibility. After all, music receives greater critical scrutiny when heard in an armchair, devoid of distractions, than through a malfunctioning PA in a tropically humid warehouse at 3AM. Simultaneously, access to an unprecedented quantity of music has blurred already tenuous genre boundaries to the point where any grasp at classification feels regressive.
“These Walls” is thus a true product of its time, a hybrid of minimalistic, finger-snapping 90s R&B, 808s & Heartbreak-era Kanye West plasticised vocals, homespun singer-songwriter panache and bass wobbles that betray the influence of the fading Dubstep. The smooth, almost sickly keys bear a striking similarity to Kendrick Lamar’s song of the same name, and there are evocations of D’Angelo, the Blue Nile and even The 1975’s ‘If I Believe You’ in the artificially supple textures of the verse, which is punctured by a distorted, gunshot snare.
Lyrically, the track is (probably unintentionally) a fourth-wall smashing commentary on its own genre dabblings, promising to “bring these walls down”. However, the words are unspecific and blustery enough to be applied to virtually any situation, with a bit of imagination. There’s a pleasant earnestness to Atticus’ declaration that he will “sing this song for you” before proceeding to do so, although the track more broadly occupies well-trodden thematic terrain: the vaguely tortured, lovelorn singer-songwriter. Indicative of its genre indiscretions, it also places Atticus firmly in the lineage of other singers who mixed soulful vocals with pulsating electronica, most popularly Alex Clare and Jack Garratt. However, the inventive incorporation of R&B elements into “These Walls” distinguish it strikingly.
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