It’s apt that the debut album by R.LUM.R is called Surfacing. It’s a record by an artist that is fully formed, rising from the depths that is staggering in scope and sound. The Bradenton, Florida native born Reginald Lamar Williams Jr. has built a sound that borrows from the narcotic soundscapes and vocal tone of The Weeknd, the sensuality of Sade (an artist he grew up listening to, capped with and disorienting, spare beats that sound like dozing in out of a Xanax nap. That’s just the first half of the record.
“Call Me Back” is a pitch-shifted, double-tracked female voice talking about relationship struggles. It runs directly up against, “Lies’, and impressive response where R.LUM.R attacks the track with a nervy, aggressive vocal before settling into a falsetto-driven hook - “Tell me what you want, I want to hear it/Tell me what I know’s already clear/Tell me just enough to keep me near/Tell me lies, tell me lies (Tell me)”. It’s an anti-love song, where there is no resolve. It’s literally trying to extend the mirage when something is clearly broken.
The songs on Surfacing are all expertly crafted, like an artisanal sonic candy that you want to consume slowly, experiencing each complex layer. “Cold” is a song that has a crisp, dry beat a carousel of synths and hyper-processed background vocals, while “Give Me A Reason” is built on a few simple guitar chords before ascending into a group choir and strings, it’s such a shocking departure from the rest of the album on first listen, but a bed of ethereal sounds lower in the mix reminds you what record you’re listening to. On “Middle Of The Night” digs a little deeper. It’s a piano ballad that finds R.LUM.R questioning his safety amongst anxious thoughts.
What makes this record so special is that R.LUM.R is an artist whose full heartedness translates both to dark, swirling atmospheric compositions as well as ones that are a little more grounded in traditional instrumentation. For many artists, a record like Surfacing can seem scattershot. For R.LUM.R, it’s a mood, a fearless show of talent and curatorial expertise. It’s hard to dream up his next record, but it’s certain that whatever it sounds like it will be something as focused, bold and irresistibly immersive.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media
This review was written by Brendan Hilliard, of Obviate Media. Obviate Media is a Chicago-based blog covering music and pop culture. Check them out, here: Obviate Media.