Despite carving out a name for himself in recent years as a West Coast artist to watch — eye-catching solo projects here (2016’s ‘I’m Uugly’), glowing endorsements from the likes of Billie Eilish and Tyler, the Creator there — Duckwrth has long had his sights set on his major label debut album.
The LA musician and visual artist, born Jared Lee, recently revealed in a YouTube interview that he selected the name for this particular project way back in 2013. “But I was never in the right space with myself mentally and energy-wise to be able to present an album that felt like a celebration,” he admitted. “An album that was made with nothing but love and joy.”
Boy, could we all use some love and joy right now, huh? Fortunately, Duckwrth has chosen the chaotic backdrop of 2020 to provide some relief with ‘SuperGood’, his first studio album as part of the Republic Records roster. It’s a vibrant sonic collage of escapism that twists and turns in direction with almost every track change, and Duckwrth previously signposted the record’s protean nature by declaring that it also serves as “an appreciation for Black music and Black rhythm”.
The record’s pick-and-mix approach to genre produces a something-for-everyone feel to this 16-track album: try resisting the ‘Coloring Book’-like hip-hop jam ‘Money Dance’ or the slick pop-funk guitar licks that accompany the rich falsettos on ‘World On Wheels’. You’ll equally find it tough to find much of a grudge with the smooth, chopped soul of the EARTHGANG collaboration ‘Super Bounce’, while ‘Coming Closer’ boasts a house-meets-R&B beat that would have Kaytranada nodding in approval.
Not all of the album works quite as well – ‘Kiss U Right Now’ is thankfully a one-track-only exploration into dramatic R&B ballad territory. But jittering, percussion-powered closer ‘Find A Way’ injects the record with that last-dance-of-the-night energy. Wisely launched as the album’s first single back in May, it exudes feel-good qualities that have taken on a new lease of life during these uncertain times. “We gon’ have to find a way,” goes the jubilant hook.
Right now Duckwrth is focused on crisp Pharrell/N.E.R.D./Neptunes-style production, and the largely well-executed ‘SuperGood’ provides enough evidence to suggest he’s en route to bigger and better things. What that’s going to sound like, though, is anyone’s guess.
Release date: August 21
Record label: Republic Records