Laurie Vincent and Jolyon Thomas have established their own distinctive styles. For Vincent, that’s aggressive and propulsive bare-bones punk rock that usually stays removed from the melody. For Thomas, that’s industrial and synth-heavy hip hop production for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, M83, and U2. But now, with their new project Larry Pink The Human, the duo are exploring a genre that neither one had explicitly tapped into before: pop.
As a way to dip their toes into the water, the band have released a new mixtape, helpfully titled M1xtape, in which they present seven songs that act as a collective departure from their respective expected styles. What becomes clear throughout the half-hour of music assembled is that Vincent and Thomas are adept at more than what they’re known for in their day jobs.
Sonically, M1xtape might just be one of the best sounding releases of the year. Whether it’s acoustic guitar lines on ‘BISOUSxxx’, loopy pop beats on ‘No Wrong No Right’, or the spacey synths on ‘Do Don’t Will Won’t’, Vincent and Thomas have an uncanny ability to make everything seem explosive and incredibly exciting. The goal appears to be “make it all bright and shiny”, which could have wound up being grating, but they accomplish it with such panache that it’s almost impossible not to get on board with the pure power of it all.
Unfortunately, you’re probably best off ignoring most of the lyrics entirely. They range from overused and unoriginal self-help (“Life is what happens while you’re making plans” in ‘Surfacing’) to boilerplate stories of young love (“Spearmint kisses in the front seat of my car” in ‘Feels Like Home’), none of which translate as either profoundly poetic or goofy fun. ‘ELEVEN11_GTR_SONG’ did have one section that connected among its throwaway lines: “Then it’s over in a blink of an eye/ From where you were standing it didn’t fly by/ It dragged and it wrenched and it ripped and it tore/ The floor from beneath you, it pulled down your walls”. I just wish the attention to detail that went into those four lines was used throughout the mixtape’s lyrics.
Thankfully, the surrounding sounds are so infectious that it’s easy to drown out or ignore the overly simplistic words. Dense production styles on tracks like ‘Breathe’ easily fit in with the sparser sounds of ‘BISOUSxxx’ and ‘Feels Like Home’. It’s refreshing to hear these two musicians, who are generally used to full-throttle attack, strip down and take some of the edges off without sacrificing an ounce of energy. The arrangements are meticulous, and even the slower and sadder songs can easily turn into danceable tracks given the right state of mind.
It’s hard to say if the surprising sweetness and lighter style would curdle in a longer format. Would M1xtape begin to wear out its welcome if it were stretched another 15-30 minutes longer? Perhaps. But credit to them for either unintentionally keeping things compact or purposefully not pushing the proceedings beyond an easily digestible quick and dirty thirty minutes. Each song has more impact and memorability, thanks to the fact that there’s little-to-no filler.
M1xtape is a perfectly fine announcement of two already established and talented figures proclaiming their desire to work outside their comfort zones. What’s revealed is that variety and versatility are two more weapons in both Vincent’s and Thomas’ arsenals. It’s not perfect, but M1xtape is charming and invigorating enough to put Larry Pink The Human on the map.