There’s a thin line between the post-psychedelic surreal points in melodic hip-hop and the blushing ambience of contemporary electronica at its most relaxed and low-fidelity, and in Dreams Never Die/ColdWave, Sharlamar “Superstar” Curry blurs it beyond recognition right out of the gate. In the record’s opening track, “FK IT,” we’re quickly ushered from a concrete world to one of shapeless harmony, with Superstar leading the way through a wickedly melodic vocal that will ebb and flow with the emotion in the material throughout the whole of the LP. This is an artist who is playing for keeps, and in Dreams Never Die/ColdWave, he makes that abundantly clear to us.
“NTN” exotically fills the speakers with a cerebral texture entirely removed from the aggressive rhythm of the percussion beneath the lead vocals, but much like “MY CHICK,” it asserts its creator as a player far more concerned with mood than he is artificial frills. Even the pop components of his aesthetics are stylized to export as much tension as they do catharsis, resulting in lyrics and music that blend realism, introspection, poetic duality and self-righteousness all at the same time. Simply put, Dreams Never Die/ColdWave’s first half depicts humanity with more honesty than any listener could prepare themselves for.
“CALL RIGHT NOW” dives straight into slow jam territory epically and without anything to hold the exquisite nature of its melodicism back from the audience, while “COLDWAVE” takes its time lusting its way into our hearts, but both songs feel cut from the same R&B-influenced cloth. There’s a lot of retro artistry burning away like incense in the background here, but I like that Superstar went out of his way to keep it subtle in the grander scheme of things. It highlights the soul his music has while keeping the greater theme in play rooted in the 21st century exclusively.
Where “OUT OF PLANETS” is a bit forceful and indulgently electronic in ways the other songs here just aren’t, I don’t think it represents an immense departure from the style of the sonic attributes we hear in “FK IT” and “CALL RIGHT NOW.” The vocals are still as crisp as ever at this juncture of the LP, and though the rhythm is suffocating in spots, it’s necessary in getting our attention – and thus allowing for us to appreciate all of the detail going into even the simplest of moments here.
Brooding and bubbly despite its deeply sexual undertow, “WHO GON LUH U” shamelessly flirts with us via harmony and beat alike, but next to the unbelievably personal “MY CITY,” it’s hard for any song to compete on the chills scale. I had never listened to nor heard of Sharlamar “Superstar” Curry before coming across this gem of a debut full-length, released just last November, but I was truly shocked to find the treasures Dreams Never Die/ColdWave contains. This is a definitively self-aware piece that doesn’t care what you think about scene politics and the rules of contemporary pop – here, Superstar reveals himself to be a premier force in an exciting chapter of American music history, and for my money he’s one of the more intriguing underground artists to follow at the moment.
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