Tkay Maidza’s new EP Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 is out now via 4AD.
The third entry in the lineage of short and sweet EPs that constitute the Last Year Was Weird saga represents yet another victory for Tkay Maidza’s neat blend of trap beats and mellow pop. For enjoyers of her previous work, Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 is more of the same, which may sound bad, but actually isn’t. Considering that the second volume had already struck gold in terms of dynamic song writing and organic flows, there was not much needing to be reworked for LYYWV3.
That being said, this new instalment can feel somewhat too safe in certain instances, pacing itself too comfortably in the runway trod by its brilliant predecessor. The similar flavours shared across both volumes can leave behind a dim sense of déjà vu. The obvious counter-argument lies in the fact that both projects take part in the same stylistic and thematic universe, and to that I say: fair enough! Even then, having taken more creative liberties would not have done this here project any disfavours.
All that aside, there is little to complain about here. Where the record is given an absolute edge is precisely in how stupendously easy it is for the listener to indulge in its addictive and bouncy composition. And because tracks are kept short and compact, following each other in quick fashion, we’re never left with a dull moment. Before one can get over the infectiousness of ‘Eden’’s chorus, ‘Onto Me’ has already taken its place, allowing just a few seconds before yet another sublimely-sung chorus hops in.
‘So Cold’ features a tonal exchange between a lowkey stance where vocals and instrumentals alike are kept at quieter volumes, only to be engulfed by interchanging sequences dominated by lively bass lines and polyphonic singing. Its structure is similar to that of ‘Cashmere’, which portrays Tkay’s more personal facet through beautifully-orchestrated yet sorrowful melodies.
But Tkay Maidza is not all sunshine and rainbows. If the previous tracks were illustrative of her ability to create buttery-smooth pop sections, other such as ‘Syrup’ and ‘Kim’ showcase a completely different persona. One empowered by puncturing percussion, experimentation with different flows and tempos, and semantically-bold, assertively-uttered bars. Immediately after comes another banger, ‘High Beams’, perhaps the most vibrant and multifarious moment in the EP.
The record comes to a close with its arguably least exciting song. By trading off the lively character that resides in the remaining tracks for a calmer moment of brief reflectiveness, ‘Breathe’ not only hinders the momentum that was hitherto built, but also comes off as a lacklustre slow burner that does away with the dynamic pacing and melodiousness that all other tracks had us accustomed to.
On a final, more positive note, LYYWV3 might not do much in terms of presenting its themes cohesively, but then again, it does not really need to. Its inherently pleasurable and highly entertaining nature alone prove to be more than enough for the record to solidify on its own.