Melancholy spikes the guitar melody that awakens a jittery bassline in “DRE@M VACA$ION,” one quarter of the new EP BA$EMENT P0P by Dan Rico, but its somber tone doesn’t stick around for long. With Rico’s swaggering command of the microphone joining the six-string groove within seconds of its arrival, “DRE@M VACA$ION” starts to grow before our very ears, adopting a Sly and the Family Stone-style sway as we reach the first verses. The beats allow for tiny gaps to be created in the rhythm, and in those gaps Dan Rico fills the void with an abrasive vocal track that is seasoned with melodic facets in the master mix. As the leadoff single from BA$EMENT P0P, this song is in many ways an amalgamation of all four tracks that make up the EP, as it fuses together the clubby grooves that breathe life into the middle section of the record with the surreal structure that gets us going in the opener “SCOFFLAW.” Just when you thought pop couldn’t get any more chic, BA$EMENT P0P is here to expand your mind and present you with a new way of absorbing high class harmonies.
In nearly six minutes of sonic bliss, “STAR*” seeps its way into existence on the strength of its noisy melodies, which are unkempt and crude and yet arranged using an almost classical construction. Rico throws the essence of funk-influenced R&B, the grooves of EDM and the fierce tonality of rock into a singular melting pot of rhythm in this track, and while it’s not quite as acerbic a pop song as “SHI” is, it’s definitely a far cry from the formless post-rock of some of his more creatively reticent peers.
You can tell that he spent a lot of time ironing out all of the little details in these tracks; from the grating crunch of the synths in “SHI” to the burning tension in “STAR*” and “DRE@M VACA$ION,” every element is designed to induce sensory overload. I honestly don’t remember the last time that I listened to a club-oriented record that was as intellectually stirring as this one is, even after repeat listens, and considering the fact that I’ve already reviewed close to three dozen such releases this year, that’s really saying something about the enduring quality of this EP.
“SCOFFLAW” is, in my opinion, the most impactful and intimate song that I’ve heard Dan Rico record. From its minimalist execution to its understated rhythm and the marvelously melodic vocal that it pushes through our speakers, this track gets our adrenaline pumping at the start of BA$EMENT P0P, and contagiously spreads its erotic energy to almost anyone who catches a glimpse of its refined stylization. If you weren’t a Dan Rico fan prior to hearing “SCOFFLAW” or the three dramatic dispatches that it’s accompanied by in this extended play, you’re going to be by the time this music has finished having its way with you. Rico steps up to the plate and hits a harmonious homerun in this latest release, and I’m not even close to kidding when I say that it’s a racy record that belongs on every pop fanatic’s stereo this spring.
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