“My second EP will blow the first one out of the water” glaive teased – aka 16-year-old Ash Gutierrez – when NME caught up with him in May. And the hyperpop scene-leader’s confidence certainly wasn’t misplaced: full of instant hits with massive crossover potential, ‘all dogs go to heaven’ is a huge step up for the North Carolina newcomer, only made more impressive by the fact that he only started making music during the early lockdown period last year.
He has, perhaps, realised the limitations of recording at home; this one was put down in a swanky LA studio with some massive names rather than alone in his remote bedroom. And so, the eight-track follow-up to his debut, ‘cypress grove’, is beefed up to stadium size (though feels like more of a mini-album than an EP) as well as providing a fine entry point for those not yet familiar with hyperpop.
Compared to other artists in the constantly-evolving scene, the noticeable selling point with glaive’s music has always been his accessibility; by employing traditional song structures and acoustic guitars, the range of sounds extend far beyond the hyperpop umbrella: alongside bass-heavy glitchy maximalism, there’s sticky riffs and thrashing drums (a lot of them, in fact, on ‘stephany’ and ‘synopsis’) and even classical strings (‘bastard’).
It’s the crossover between the serene and the fury where glaive thrives: ‘1984’, co-produced by Internet Money Records’ Nick Mira and Whethan, starts out meandering but the pace intensifies as the bittersweet story unfolds and the claustrophobic beats hit. Likewise, the initial strums of ‘i wanna slam my head against the wall’ morph into frenetic production and a trap-heavy cocoon; ‘detest me’s blown-out drums, snares and a dolphin-like flute coalesce chaotically.
The unflinching ‘bastard’, contrastingly, gets straight to the point: just 11 seconds in, everything comes crashing into a massive drop while the twinkly keys underpin Ash’s raging post-breakup emotions; we’ve seen plates smash to pieces with more grace. The angst-ridden ‘poison’, featuring Travis Barker on production, is equally urgent and heavy, with a fusion of trap-meets-pop-punk. Every emotion (though usually angst) and sound is fair game; he doesn’t fear the diversity, but corrals it with a liberating naivety and an open ear.
As well as showcasing genuine depth to his songwriting (mental health, alienation and adjusting to newfound success all get a look in), he proves that his appeal will soon transcend the relatively niche hyperpop scene, ‘all dogs’ is a remarkable indication of the directions glaive could go in next: all of them.
- Release date: August 6
- Record label: Interscope Records