Review: Khalid – Suncity EP

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60%
60
Solid

This is by no means a bad project, but it does feel a little half-hearted. The 7 song composition leads to a lack of replay value.

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Khalid has managed to take some time out of making smash hits and focus on a new, more experimental project which has come in the form of the Suncity EP. After an incredible summer, with huge singles like ‘Love Lies’ and ‘Eastside’, Khalid is currently the 3rd most played artist on Spotify by monthly listeners (behind Drake and Selena Gomez). Can the 20 year old superstar live up to his incredible track record on this new release?

The short answer is, in some ways. It should be noted that most of the tracks on Suncity don’t follow Khalid’s perfected pop song blueprint. This has resulted in some interesting songs which are a breath of fresh air from Khalid’s usual style. For example, at around 3:16 in the track ‘Better’, Daft Punk-esque vocals grace the track. You might think this would sound out of place next to Khalid’s characteristic airy vocals which we know and love, but I like the way it sounds and am always happy to see an artist branch out a little. Khalid also imitates The Weeknd’s echoey, ethereal style of singing on ‘Salem’s Interlude’ and ‘Motion’. These two artists have always been in the same lane, but now there is more overlap than ever. Hopefully we could see them both on a track sometime soon.

Named after the nickname of his home town of El Paso, Texas, Suncity features more cinematic transitions than we are used to seeing from Khalid. Almost every song ends with snippet from a recorded phone call, conversation or news story. In ‘9.13’ for example, we hear the mayor of El Paso presenting Khalid with the key to the city, and it’s nice to see the young star receiving recognition from the state for his talent. In ‘Salem’s Interlude’ we hear a phone call monologue from a female voice (potentially a mum or sister) talking about her outlook on life. As a result of these cinematic transitions, listening to the EP in sequential order sounds natural and coherent, adding to the experience. However in isolation, for example if one of these songs was on a playlist alone, these transitions can sound out of place.

‘Vertigo’ shows a lot more introspection than some of Khalid’s previous releases. It lacks the catchy chorus required for a commercially successful song, and features more personal lyrics like “I’ve been learning, I’ve been growing, but the worst is yet to come,” which could elude to some of the worries and concerns that come with young fame.

‘Better’ was released in mid September well before the rest of the songs on this album, and it looks to be the most commercially successful song from the EP. It’s got a memorable chorus and is more what we are used to hearing from Khalid.

Finally, the track ‘Suncity’ features the vocals of Empress Of, a Latin-American artist. The hispanic style of this song sounds a lot more natural coming from Khalid, a youth from a Texas border town, than some other artists like the Canadian Drake who appears to be jumping on the band wagon with his latest release ‘MIA’.

Suncity EP is a good project from an outstanding artist. Whilst the EP was entertaining to listen to and I’ll be going back and listening to some songs again, particularly ‘Motion’, I can’t help but feel a little short changed. I think if Khalid was a little more daring, this project could’ve had more replay value. And more importantly, at only seven songs long, this is very light on content to say the least especially considering the inclusion of an interlude and an introduction.

Suncity EP is available now via RCA records.

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