Alex Crossan (aka Mura Masa) was robbed of the chance to properly tour his second album, 2020’s ‘R.Y.C’, thanks to COVID. That album – a sedate, guitar-driven collection of songs on which Crossan sang for the first time – was a reset from the dancefloor-ready eclecticism of his self-titled 2017 debut; its insular feel was well-suited to lengthy periods holed-up indoors.
After the pandemic, Crossan knew what direction to head in next. The Guernsey-raised multi-instrumentalist has said he predicted that people would need “vicarious, escapist music” right now. Cue the title and premise of his third album.
‘Demon Time’ finds him uniting the cut‘n’splice nature of his earlier electronic music with the emo sensibilities of ‘R.Y.C’. It’s his most genre-hopping effort yet, containing ample nods to the early ‘00s music topping the charts during his childhood while embracing contemporary and future-facing tastes. The Lil Uzi Vert, Shygirl and PinkPantheress-featuring ‘Bbycakes’ is one such example. It’s a refresh of 3 Of A Kind’s 2004 UK garage hit that sees Crossan pay tribute to the original’s light bounce, this time flushed with trap-indebted beats and steel drums.
2-step beats like this provide one of the record’s nostalgic sonic through-lines (see also: ‘E-motions’). Dance pop number and ode to materialism ‘Prada (I Like It) (feat. Leyla) extends that, recycling high-pitched synth blips reminiscent of early ’00s R&B. An old-school ringtone opens ‘Hollaback Bitch’, as Shygirl refuses to debase herself to her casual lover, determining atop a deep house bassline that she won’t “be that hollaback bitch”.
‘Up All Week’ opens with a disconnected landline dial tone before frequent collaborator Slowthai launches into a nihilistic electro-punk banger about partying to numb the pain of an unfulfilling lifestyle: “You work your whole life, that’s affordable living / Spend your salary renovating your kitchen.”
Other tracks are more plugged in to the popular sounds of recent years and feel more future-facing. ‘Demon Time’ (feat. BAYLI), minus its obvious interpolation of 50 Cent’s 2003 hit ‘In Da Club’, unravels a grubby bassline twisted by fresh samples. ‘Blessing Me’ rides the Afrobeats wave as Pa Salieu and Skillibeng extol the power of lust, while the pitch-shifted ‘Slomo’ (feat. Tohji and Midas The Jagaban) channels hyper-pop.
Admittedly ‘Blush’ sounds like a bland, tropical house ident primed for Love Island, while the reggaeton rhythms and accordion loops in ‘Tonto’ (feat. Isabella Lovestory) make for a maddening listen. Nevertheless, Mura Masa has again pooled disparate guests and sounds to make a record that is somehow both steeped in a sense of curation and individual to his artistic identity.
Release date: September 16
Record label: Polydor