Album Review: MNEK, ‘Language’

MNEK_Language_CMYK
Album artwork for MNEK’s ‘Language.’ Source: Virgin EMI/Moshi Moshi/Capitol

Even if you haven’t realized it, MNEK has been on your radar if you listen to pop music. Whether it’s on his own eclectic records (“Never Forget You,” “More Than a Miracle”) or songs he’s written for other artists (Dua Lipa’s “IDGAF” or Little Mix’s “Touch”). MNEK has proven himself a top-tier pop craftsman. On his debut album, Language, MNEK has created a confection of luscious melodies, infectious lyricism, and sheer effervescence.

Language is easily one of the most cohesive records of the year so far. Stitched together by seamless transitions and hilarious interludes, Language is thoroughly filling and entertaining listen. The first proper song on the record, “Correct” is a hard-hitting and spunky manifesto of self-worth and confidence. Following songs, “Tongue,” “Phone,” “Colour,” and “Body” are incredibly interesting. While many of the records are seemingly standard pop music, MNEK’s gorgeous harmonies and delicate tone elevate every record. MNEK is an artist that knows every nook and cranny of the vast being that is pop music, and he uses this knowledge to create some of the best pop songs in recent years.

Funnily enough, the crux of the album appears in the middle of the tracklist; “Honeymoon Phaze” is a tour de force of harmonic excellence and emotive vocal performances. If there is one song that defines MNEK’s artistry at this present time, it is “Honeymoon Phaze.” The deceptively-simple “Girlfriend” is a story of an affair between MNEK, an openly gay man, and another man who presents himself as straight. Sung in Destiny’s Child’s trademark run-filled staccato flow, “Girlfriend” is an incredible record. MNEK pulls from the 90’s with vigor and appreciation to craft a soundscape that is rooted in tody’s electronica and trap-influenced pop. Nevertheless, this special soundscape is still acutely aware of the style of its musical predecessors.

The one downside to Language is the general homogeneity of the production. MNEK would have benefitted from an experiment with sounds outside of his comfort zone, at times the production can feel redundant. Songs towards the latter end of the album like “Crazy World,” for example, are pure filler and unfortunately damper the album. Also on the second half of the album, “Free,” the penultimate song on the record, would have benefitted from being a ballad as the first verse suggests. The eventual dance breakdown sounds like a rehash of Skrillex and Diplo’s 2014 collaborative records.

Overall, Language is a terrific record and great solo statement from one of pop music’s most cherished and important songwriters and producers.

Key Tracks: “Girlfriend,” “Honeymoon Phaze,” “Correct”

SCORE: 78

Featured Image Source: Virgin EMI/Moshi Moshi/Capitol

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