Life’s quite mad around here, so let go of your preconceived notions and let’s have a bit of a mad one with our pal glaive.

Release date: February 23, 2024 | Interscope Records | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube

A few months ago I decided to go on a deep dive into hyperpop and zoomer music. I’d noticed that most people outside of that generation write off any of this music as dopaminergic noise pollution, or the talentless death of ‘real music’. I don’t really want to become some boomer, whining about auto-tune and someone ‘just pressing play on a laptop‘, or worse, the folks saying rock and roll is satanic as The Beatles made their rise, so I decided I’d give it a proper go. History repeats itself, and it’s our responsibility to be open-minded if we don’t want to be left in the past. Besides if you want to make rules about what is and isn’t music you’re just limiting your own range of experiences, old man who yells at cloud.

glaive (good lord always invoke virtuous energy) happened to be the first artist I listened to when I went on this little journey, specifically “heather” from his EP then I’ll be happy. I’ll be the first to admit, there was a lot of crap music in the hyperpop playlists I found, but glaive stood out as soul- and thoughtful. The usual post-ironic attitude and speaker-clipping earworms were all present, but within that, heart-felt lyrics and some serious musicianship.

A quick aside, I’ll continue to use the term hyperpop, but as many artists in the genre have pointed out, it’s a bit too vague to be useful, it just happens to be a best fit umbrella and hopefully we find more accurate subgroups. It basically covers any high energy, eclectic, or surrealist pop, and is characterised by earworm hooks, loose song structure, and highly compressed, loud, and distorted synths. I like to think of hyperpop and lo-fi hip hop as opposite sides of the same coin, if that helps. SOPHIE’s “Immaterial” is an example, there’s also 100 gecs, Sleigh Bells, and maybe the highest energy Grimes tracks such as “Kill V. Maim”. Grimes is a great example, though, of how genres like art-pop aren’t really done justice when they’re dumped in the hyperpop bin.

It’s my observation that hyperpop goes hand in hand with zoomers. It makes sense really – this is a generation that prioritises expression and connection over tradition. It’s a divide that fascinates me, the older generations see something that doesn’t fit the mold of what they’re used to and disregard it, and the younger seemingly show disdain for the path laid by those that came before them. Maybe a little too political for the scope of this review, but I can hardly blame them for disrespecting the old ways – they’ve been born into a system that is failing and collapsing.

Anyways, onto glaive’s new EP a bit of a mad one. And there’s more to glaive than just hyperpop. A lot of his previous work starts with pretty acoustic guitar riffs, and there’s the occasional soft song that fully falls into bedroom pop, like “all dogs go to heaven – outro”, but this album leans far more into that bedroom pop side. I hope this makes it a bit more accessible to the anti-zoomer crowd because it’s a fucking fantastic release.

The EP comes in at just under fourteen minutes, however to me this is like a seven-course sashimi Omakase – each song has its own distinct personality, and is just long enough to be savoured and remembered. I may not full, but I’m completely satisfied, and would rather soak in the experience than fulfill something as trivial as base hunger.

“even when the sun is dead, will you tell them how hard i tried” kicks things off with glaive’s signature formula of soft verse, off-the-walls chorus. It starts with a beautiful and delicate bedroom pop intro, some rough around the edges recording, then we dive into digital overdrive. The chorus is a bass-thumping dopamine nuke, synths clipping out at nightcore bpm before kicking even harder into a hardstyle section. Honestly, there’s no reason why you can’t have verses this pretty then jack the nervous system to 110% in the same song, fuck the rules. This song also introduces glaive’s poeticism:

Can’t help it but be scared a bit
But fuck me, I’m scared all the time
Recently I’ve realized that death is not an option
suppose it’s just a part of life.

I love being reminded that seeing the world like this and painting it for others is an ageless talent, a connection that bridges divides and pre-perceptions.

glaive writes beautifully with clever little throwbacks and juxtapositions. There’s strong and deliberate contrast as we go from “i don’t really feel it anymore” where he lets down a lover with ‘Cause I don’t really feel it anymore/ I suppose it’s only right…’ to “hope alaska national anthem” where he is let down and lets go with, ‘it’ll kill me to have you leave, but you probably should’. “hope alaska” is the first track on this album that leans fully into bedroom pop, to the point I was reminded of Cavetown or Alex G, and I really love this side of glaive. He mentions that this EP was made at one of his lowest points, and I’m glad things are looking better now, but I hope that doesn’t mean he won’t continue to make songs like this in future.

“god is dead” was the highlight of the EP for me – I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head for the entire week. The low-tech verse is already stunning on its own, and leads into another hardstyle chorus, giving this semi-ironic carelessness that mirrors the lyrics. The wordplay is so clever too, with religion already on the mind he repeats ‘this little plight of mine, would you ease it?‘. The track is succinct and sincere, whilst still being an unhinged romp musically.

In the last couple songs glaive digs into his lows, anxieties, and depression. As you get older it can be tempting to ribbon-wrap negative thoughts like this, so it’s refreshing to experience streams of consciousness like: ‘I’m thankful I never got what I thought I wanted/ Cause I hate what I have in the same second I got it’. I could probably put any line from “living proof (that it hurts)” here too, but the one that resonated most with me was ‘everyone wants you sedated/ but they’re too pussy to say it’. I have to say though, while I love his raw, candid lyricism, ableist slurs don’t need to make a comeback and it was a bit of a shame to find those in the otherwise great “phobie d’impulsion”.

I was really touched by a bit of a mad one. glaive tackles a lot of the feelings I’ve been processing lately, and in such a heartfelt and unpretentious way. It’s one of the best traits of this generation, that they’re able to express themselves without any care of judgement, as if it’s the most ordinary thing in the world to be this profound. The hardstyle sections slap, the bedroom pop sections are as good as any in the genre, and overall this EP is too short and too rich to excuse not giving it a go. Especially if you’ve written off ‘zoomer music’ in the past, I know glaive is good enough to change your mind, so please, do yourself a favour and enjoy it.

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