Sophomore albums are often a toss-up, especially for somebody so quickly met with as much success as Rustie, a break-out album followed by a landmark BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix and even a summer mixtape for NPR.
Green Language may be more subdued than Glass Swords, but it also feels more organized, somehow more deliberate. The change is not unlike my experience with ADD before and after medication. The results of both are somewhat mixed, but generally positive.
In the album’s opening track, “Workship”, Rustie builds a lush sound-scape for us to rest in while he builds the experience around us, briefly and segues smoothly into…more ambiance? At first, yes, “A Glimpse” sounds like more of the same , but then the bass kicks in. It doesn’t drop, because this isn’t dub-step. It beats like a heart, lulling you into submission. After a series of throbbing, then slowly fading envelopes, Rustie tells us it’s time to move on with a strange choice of guitar. I keep thinking my Spotify subscription lapsed and a commercial’s come on. Nope, just an oblique change to set the stage for what comes next.
“Raptor” is the slap in the face, the elevated heart-rate at just the right time. This is the Rustie that people were afraid they might not get with the second album. His strength is definitely on display, with an upbeat tempo, with bright and jagged synths and more heavy bass. It’s addictive, and over far too soon. When the song changes, I’m again prompted to look at what I’m listening to. Did I accidentally hit random? How did it skip to Bonobo? Nope, it’s definitely Rustie. “Paradise Stone” is a small, sweet valley with great atmospheric elements, again hypnotizing you, the listener, into a pleasant daze.
Which makes the next part all the more jarring. “Up Down” leads into “Attak,” both featuring non-traditional hip-hop MC’s. Rustie finds a way to complement their unique styles while maintaining his own signature sound. It should come a little easier now with Danny Brown, after their three-song stint on Danny Brown’s Old.
Another collaboration, “He Hate Me,” featuring Gorgeous Children breaches into R&B, where the chemistry isn’t quite as ideal, but the end product is a slow, seductive jam. Even if a bit disjointed. The same things can be said for the later track, “Lost” with Redinho. They almost make it work, but not quite.
“Velcro” brings us back to comfortable territory, the “I don’t have to think about anything, just get up and dance” realm where Rustie excels. And where I want him to stay for his third record, whenever that comes out.
Finally, Rustie leaves us with the title track, letting the listener down easy. Maybe too easy. The closing tracks are much like the two openers, in that they’re dreamy and melodic with occasional punches of bass, then a gradual, soft fade into silence.