iann dior – ‘On To Better Things’ review: melodic rap star turns high-flying rock and roller

The US star's second album is more focused and comes with a clear vision of his next sonic step

There’s probably no better way to map iann dior’s journey over the last two years than to compare his two album titles. He arrived in 2019 with ‘Industry Plant’, a brash debut that poked fun at the accusation that his rise to prominence was more marketing than talent; he told NME the title was a “statement” and that all he wanted was for people to ignore the noise and “listen to the music”.

His newly released album, ‘On To Better Things’ is a bigger, more confident statement, and a perfect ode to the evolution of pop-punk. When working with Travis Barker, the blink-182 drummer and now-influential producer, on three of the album’s tracks, the two sonically make keepsakes for those still yearning for a piece of their messy, emo-tinged childhood. The pair truly shine on ‘Oblivious’ which comes in with the same vigour as 30H3! and other punchy ‘00s vocalists, while ‘thought it was’ features a perfect rap-rock crossover with Machine Gun Kelly.


When previously heading down on the SoundCloud rap lane, iann dior’s music felt like a knock-off of the popular stars of that musical movement, but in time he’s found his own space. At points he sounded like Lil Uzi Vert, but now, the pair collaborate and show their versatile and unique voices, harnessing that same boastful persona: “It go zero to 100 when I hit the floor / I might hit a few times but I can’t keep her close”.

The best track, ‘sinking interlude’, is all dior, however. Opening with a frazzled electric guitar line, he muses on feeling release in this heartfelt tale: “At the bottom of the sea, laid on the floor / Water fills my lungs, won’t breathe anymore”. Ethereal croons follow before the bassline drops – it’s an out-of-body experience showing true growth from the 22-year-old’s craft.

By the end, we’re left with ian’s modern interpretation of the One Tree Hill soundtrack, gleefully holding its own with scene titans All-American Rejects and Jimmy Eat World. ‘On To Better Things’ bottles up that teenage angst as perfectly as the golden age of pop-punk music. And with the genre’s return to the mainstream, when people look back at Gen Z’s pop-punk resurgence, ‘On To Better Things’ may well become a special artefact.


Iann Dior

  • Release date: January 21
  • Record label: 10K Projects