Varsity Dropout shows off their uncanny ability to create soulful, sophisticated pop that constantly surprises on the lush “Thank God for These Two Insomnias and the Differences Between Them”. Full of tremendous detail, the multiple layers have work wonders in creating this rather beguiling mix. Easy to get lost in, there is an emotional heaviness that propels the whole album forward. Lyrics here have a thoughtful presence to them, exploring relationships, lust, longing, and a sense of true self-realization.
Sonically there is a great luxury to the mix. More than a few nods go to the Weeknd, especially in its clever mixture of R&B, 80s pop, with a light funky vibe behind it. The vocals have a Frank Ocean sense of vulnerability about them, for the lyrics seem to have a probing, introspective quality to them. Full of such a dreaminess to them, there was a swirling aspect to it. Clever flourishes, the intensity of the production further draws from Wilco’s colossal work “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”.
“Intro” sets the tone for what follows. Glistening guitar tones and the skittering beats add to the expansive texture of the sound. With “Last Call” they take the fragments of the previous track, and flesh the sound out fully. Vocals are treated in a sultry fashion, as there is so much affection that pours through it. Hope reigns supreme over the lusting “In Your Dreams” as the 80s flavor is quite strong, with clear lines to Duran Duran’s skillful, sleek synthesizers. Slow-moving funk with a jazzy affect defines “Stay With Me”. A unique mixture of hi-fi (via the vocals) and lo-fi (via the shortwave sample) comes together perfectly on “Take a Chance”. With “Don’t Get Sleep (feat. Leyna Hodovan)” there is a passion that propels the sound forward. Grunge guitar licks add to the retro-futurism of “Teenage Daydream”. Nostalgic to its core “Raining Outside” has an air of mystery about it, right down to the delicate vinyl crackles they incorporate, alongside the dusty drum beats. Quite cinematic is the unfurling grace of “Foreign Languages”. Piano powers the entirety of “What You Want” as it blends flawlessly with electronic swirls.
Gorgeous giddiness ties the whole of “Sleeping on the Floor” together for the vocals have a so much compassion behind them. “Introvert Anthem” features a joyous childlike sense of grumpiness to it, making it the clear highlight of the album. A fire and passion races through “Wanna Know”. Neon-hued splendor bounces about on the symphonic “Stupid Broken Heart”. The pastoral bliss of “Fading Memories” strips away the sound to get to something very intimate. Rhythms go for a hyperactivity on the intense trip of “Somebody” as there is an EDM flourish to it. Punk ethos and a bit of defiance informs “Let Them Talk”. Delicate with a fragility to it is “Sweetheart It’s Okay”. Bringing the whole thing full circle is the spaced-out finale of “Am I Still Dreaming?”.
“Thank God for These Two Insomnias and the Differences Between Them” presents Varsity Dropout as deftly bridging the gap between old-school and nu-school pop influences to create a sound that does not comfortably fit into either.