Varsity Dropout proves to be unvarnished storytellers with a polyglot approach to genres on the mellowed-out atmospherics of “Lucidity”. Hip-hop, lo-fi, pop, and folk mix into a kaleidoscopic whole. A dreamy disposition runs through the whole of the album giving it a dazed, hazy vibe. The vocals further lend to this approach as they have a dewy-eyed spirit as they unfurl with such grace. Lyrics draw from romantic naivete, yearning, truth, navigating relationships, and more into a singular whole. By going for such a sprawling take they perfectly capture what it means to be alive at this moment, the inherent contradictions that come with wanting someone in one’s life, and the burning passion that defines true love.
The potpourri of stylistic approaches recalls early Toro Y Moi. Akin to his early stuff, they too drench the sound with vast waves of reverb and disoriented electronics. Muffled vocals and drums on certain tracks lend insight into the chillwave genre’s tenets. Beyond this are moments of pure crystal clarity that have J Dilla’s stripped down, minimal beat work, especially on the more hip-hop infused pieces. Hip-hop also incorporates itself in those fantastically basslines, that seem to virtually stretch out into the infinite. Raps have a playful quality to them, as they deftly balance between nervousness and confidence. By refusing to settle into anything, Varsity Dropout defies listener expectations.
“I Must Be Dreaming” sets the tone for the album featuring far-off guitars that keep their distance at first but gradually come closer. Shoegaze-like with its riffs is the blissful “Dreamy State (feat. Prodbybloom)”. Toy box melodies introduce “Daisy” which starts out like Four Tet meets rap. Pop comes through on the infectious rhythms of “I’m So in Luv With U”. Gentle to its very core is the earnestness of “An Honest Song About Luv (feat. pink)”. Way spaced out is the woozy “Dreams and Reality Can’t Coexist” where the muffled approach adds to the warm tenderness of the piece. Sculpted to perfection is the stunning clarity of “Autumn Breeze”.
Warped, warbled grooves barely keep their balance on the languid pace of “Nightmare”. Nimble to its core “Smoke in the Air (feat. Cosmix Beats)” the guitar and piano intermingle in a virtual stream of consciousness. The essentials emerge on the album highlight, the fiery passion of “Reopening Wounds”. Pure celebration reigns supreme on the giddy “Help! I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up!”. A nice spoken word with fragile singing comes together on the lovelorn “Reckless Luv”. Neatly tying all that came before it is the spirited “Slow Dancing in a Dreamy State”.
A truth-seeking record, one that embraces introspection, “Lucidity” shows off the deft skill of Varsity Dropout in delivering a sound that feels spacious and serene.