“everything means nothing” is blackbear’s most consistent album to date, forgoing his blend of indie R&B for catchy, summer pop tunes.
By Gavin Majeski
Matthew Tyler Musto, better known by his stage name “blackbear,” broke out onto the mainstream music scene in 2015 with his debut LP “deadroses,” which was a blend of indie R&B and trap hip-hop aesthetics. The leading track, “idfc,” which is a moody contemporary pop ballad, peaked at 14 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart when the single was released in 2014.
It took no time for Musto to release a steady stream of albums going forward, with “everything means nothing” being his fifth full length project. “everything means nothing” sees Musto change directions sonically, veering far away from slower R&B and diving deep into electropop, utilizing an array of synths that were absent on past records.
Vocally, Musto is on top of his game compared to previous albums. Though his voice doesn’t do much to stand out in the grand scheme of mainstream pop, the layered vocal harmonies on a track like “me & ur ghost” are impressive nonetheless.
Similarly to other records, Musto’s lyrical content delves into general relationship struggles, hook ups and a plethora of generic content relatable to a high school/college student demographic. “me & ur ghost” is the only true lyrical standout, with its unique take on a breakup and how even once a relationship ends, the “ghost” of the significant other still feels present.
Looking at the polar opposite end of the spectrum, the track “why are girls?” comes off as Musto placing all of his blame on women (a common theme of his past records), while one could argue that the significant others feel the same way about Musto. Asking, “Why are girls so hard?” because he lets them “ruin my world” and “walk in my life, stab me in the back with a knife,” sounds like an immature blaming problem with Musto, rather than those he refers to.
Setting aside the often hollow lyrics, instrumentals on tracks such as the opener, “hot girl bummer,” “me & ur ghost,” “i feel bad” and “i felt that” are strong standouts within the track listing, even if it’s solely because of their synth and electronic programming usage.
“hot girl bummer” features what sounds like a twinkling xylophone in combination with a deep, futuristic synth line layering the entirety of the song. “me & ur ghost” has an ‘80s throwback feel with its synths, while “i felt that” contains heavy 808s and a unique, quickly escalating synth sample before transitioning into what feels like the drop to a perfect summer single.
“i feel bad” is easily the catchiest song on the record, with its sticky chorus, punchy drums, fantastic use of high hats, and funky, warped synths. Easily a highlight in the blackbear discography, it also isn’t hindered by the most glaring fault on “everything means nothing,” which is the disgusting overabundance of snapping samples.
Tracks aside from “i feel bad,” “sobbing in cabo,” clown,” “if i were u” and “smile again” contain the exact sample snapping sample, which by the end of the record makes you want to slam your head into a wall if you pick up on the pattern. But even some of the songs that don’t feature the irritating sample fail to impress due to how uninspired and vapid they are, namely “if i were u” and “smile again.”
Though blackbear has created his best record to date by combining acoustic instrumentation with fun, electropop grooves, “everything means nothing” features little merit other than being just “fun.”
Favorite Tracks: hot girl bummer, me & ur ghost, i feel bad, i felt that, clown, half alive