Published May 15, 2020Sweden has a rich history of contributions to popular music from hit-making producers and writers like Max Martin and Shellback and to performers like Icona Pop and Tove Lo. But they are not well known for their rap, which is where Yung Lean comes in. One of Europe's best known English-language rappers, he eschews the British gritty, grimy style for a more psychedelic and emotional sound that falls between the late, great Lil Peep and Lil Uzi Vert.
His fourth album, Starz, features 16 tracks, only one of which clocks in at over four minutes long. The songs are mostly spacey with entrancing beats as Lean speaks, sings and raps about the world not understanding him, a need for more significant relationships in his life, and his drug use. The album's biggest highlight is "Boylife in EU," which excels thanks to its sharp focus and great beat switch, centring on the lines "Don't you want to see the real me?" and "You're by my side but are you really with me?" It's sweet, sad and relatable — like everyone else, despite the fame, Lean just wants someone to chill with, to goof around with, to walk the streets with.
But despite its brisk pacing, Starz still suffers from bloat. Songs like "Iceheart," "Dance in the Dark," and "My Agenda" could have been left off the track list and made the album more coherent and enjoyable to experience. (YEAR0001)