With recording and sampling software as readily available as it’s ever been, it’s tempting for artists nowadays to use every tool at their disposal. There’s also an impulse to snatch ideas from across the dizzying spectrum of genres, which can risk watering down one’s vision. Remi Wolf, however, hits a sweet spot. She mingles organic and synthetic sounds effortlessly and pollinates her colourful, candyfloss pop music with funk, soul, hip-hop and R&B to power songs with good grooves and good vibes.
‘I’m Allergic To Dogs!’, the 24-year-old Californian artist’s second EP and her first outing on a major label (EMI/Island Records), is a flamboyant collage of pop that sticks together vignettes of her love life, hedonism and humdrum hindrances. At the centre is Wolf’s caramel soul vocals, which are either wrapped in harmonies, disrupted by clever samples or backed by a pseudo-glee club choir. Wolf’s stories are consequently vivid: as full of character as they are of characters.
Take ‘Disco Man’, a slow-mo jam Wolf wrote after seeing men “dressed as ‘70s porn-y cowboys” during a night out in LA. Wolf said it inspired her to write about a heedless renegade who has “wasted all his money” but has “never been a waste of time”. The result is a delectable slice of feel-good pop music. Funk licks, hand claps, elastic basslines and scuffed beats congeal for an anthemic, closing sing-a-long. Wolf’s casual though controlled cadence and R&B vocal runs recall SZA’s expert delivery.
On ‘Down The Line’, Wolf demonstrates a strong discernment for sampling. A fidgety, syncopated tune that considers the mind’s swirling chaos is splintered at turns by the noises of everyday life: a crying baby sample here, a dog bark there. 8-bit video game synths wriggle beneath a drum machine beat and aqueous funk riffs. “On and on I’m getting / Pushing it up just keeps me stressing,” Wolf sings at the apex of a multi-coloured, multi-textured song that really encapsulates what it is to have a busy brain.
Wolf has spoken about the impact of her mental health on her songwriting. For ‘Woo!’, an EP stand-out along with ‘Disco Man’ and disco-lite ditty ‘Photo ID’, Wolf revealed that she wrote it as an “ADHD explosion of my feelings on LOVE”. That love eruption is mimicked by the song’s jubilant “woos” and twinkly eyed synths, while lyrics “fuck I think I lost my wallet / Fuck I think I’m getting hotter”, which rattle atop a hip-hop beat, paint a distinct portrait of Wolf being flustered by her crush.
‘I’m Allergic To Dogs!’ is about as solid a record you could hope for from an artist who plucks from their favourite music but doesn’t diminish their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. It’s a creative, fun and uninhibited collection of soulful songs that will sharpen those yearnings for carefree partying post-lockdown.
Release date: June 24
Record label: EMI Records / Island Records