‘ANONYMOUS’ proves Blackbear deserves to be quite the opposite in the music industry

%22SICK+OF+IT+ALL%2C%22+one+of+the+best+tracks+on+Blackbear%27s+new+album+%22ANONYMOUS%2C%22+is+a+prime+example+of+music+with+a+message.
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‘ANONYMOUS’ proves Blackbear deserves to be quite the opposite in the music industry

"SICK OF IT ALL," one of the best tracks on Blackbear's new album "ANONYMOUS," is a prime example of music with a message.

Alex Miranda

"SICK OF IT ALL," one of the best tracks on Blackbear's new album "ANONYMOUS," is a prime example of music with a message.

Alex Miranda

Alex Miranda

"SICK OF IT ALL," one of the best tracks on Blackbear's new album "ANONYMOUS," is a prime example of music with a message.

By Alex Miranda, Downers Grove South High School

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On April 26, 2019, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Blackbear dropped his fifth studio album “ANONYMOUS” to his long-awaiting fans. Originally scheduled to come out on Valentine’s Day, the album was pushed back by Interscope Records after he signed onto the label late last year. Expectations were at an all-time high leading up to the release, for Blackbear had stated “ANONYMOUS” was his best work to date, topping cult-classic LPs such as “Help” and “Deadroses.”

Whether or not the album lives up to this claim is subjective, but it certainly makes a strong case for itself.

“ANONYMOUS” begins with “PINK ROLEX,” a sonically straightforward song detailing Blackbear’s materialistic search for satisfaction, which he recognizes is an unhealthy coping mechanism for dealing with a harsh breakup. Opening with a robotic Japanese voiceover translating to “Once again, it’s my heart,” Blackbear explains that he has “the name and the city” of his ex-girlfriend in the back of his mind and that these inescapable thoughts still haunt him and his actions.  While it is one of the weaker offerings on “ANONYMOUS,” “PINK ROLEX” does present the subjects of broken relationships and self-revelation well — themes that are echoed throughout the entire course of the album.

When it comes to overarching themes and consistency, this album is Blackbear’s strongest. He addresses many issues he has overcome in his life throughout each song. Tracks like “HIGH1X” and “DEAD BALLOONS” confront his path to sobriety and the destructive consequences of drug and alcohol addiction, while songs like “1 SIDED LOVE,” “LOSING YOU” and “CHANGES” reveal problems and regrets Blackbear has had in past relationships.

The top three songs on “ANONYMOUS” are easily “DOWN,” “ITS ALL GONNA BURN” and “SICK OF IT ALL.”

These three titles contain the most relatable, honest lyrics of the album. They all revolve around the same subject: isolation in the modern age. “IT’S ALL GONNA BURN” specifically reflects on the harshness of the world and how it affects the well-being of those who get caught up in it.

It’s people like you, and people like me/ Got sensitive teeth, the words are too cold/ What did we do to mess this thing up?/ Running away from nothing at all

While the tone of this project is mostly somber in terms of lyrical content, the production is slick and infectious. The top-notch production of the album presents a stark contrast to the words being sung, which oddly makes the sound feel complete and all the more enjoyable when heard as a whole.

The album would be nothing, however, without strong vocals. Thankfully, Blackbear delivers on all fronts. He has a very distinct voice that is immediately recognizable, and his sharp, sonorous sound truly draws listeners into the music.

There are a couple of standout issues with the project as a whole, though.

First of all, there are way too many songs on “ANONYMOUS”: 18, to be exact. Because there are so many tracks, some of them naturally fade into the background and serve more as unnecessary “filler” music than anything else. A few songs that didn’t quite meet the high standards of the rest of the album included “LOSING YOU,” “TOO CLOSE” and “MAKE A MESS,” which was disappointing because the album would have been better off– and still long enough– without them.

The issue of quantity over quality is extended to the fact that although there are almost 20 songs on the album, most of them fall within the two-minute range. Many of the tracks don’t include a bridge or an outro, which makes them feel incomplete and lacking at times. It is discouraging because the songs are captivating, but some of them seem to end before they begin.

The exception to this rule is the final track, titled “NYLA,” clocking in at four minutes and 12 seconds. Perhaps the nostalgic favorite of many longtime Blackbear supporters, this song is a remastered version of the original track of the same name released in Aug. 2013. The song is a heartbreaking one, detailing a long-distance relationship destined to fail, but Blackbear refuses to give up on it.

I know that you’re hurt, I know I’m to blame/ But I’ll make it work, I’ll make you stay/ Until that day I’m one plane ride away/ From New York to LA

It is the perfect ending to the project and a good enough reason on its own why Blackbear deserves to be anything but anonymous in the music industry.

This story was originally published on Blueprint on April 30, 2019.