Mura Masa – Mura Masa
Not all pop is manufactured, or made by men in suits with dollar signs in their eyes – sometimes an artist knows what makes a track wriggle into your brain and stay there for days. London-based youngling Alex Crossan might be too early in his career to have perfected that alchemy just yet, but coming from a bedroom in Guernsey with just Ableton and a web browser to guide his musical development, he’s goddamn close. Showing a clear progression from his 2014 Soundtrack to a Death mixtape and 2015's Someday Somewhere EP, Mura Masa has finessed his style from scrappy hip-hop-inspired electronics to a surprising and self-aware pop record.
Marked by a considered sonic vocabulary (marimba, music box, steel drums), this self-produced, self-titled album bounces along with a breezy personality, with recent singles like 1 Night (feat. Charli XCX) and What If I Go? (feat. Bonzai) catching like instant classics. Always a student, rather than a passive consumer, of the music he finds, Crossan’s slipped in basslines from the funk playbook (Nugget / NOTHING ELSE! / helpline) and some mean guitar (Messy Love), easily filing them alongside the hip-hop of Love$ick or the muffled, near-drum‘n’bass breakdowns of Second 2 None. It’s a confident, competent step forwards from a sure-footed talent, earning its repeat listens through mature considerations. And there will be repeat listens – just you try not to.
Coming from an EDM-neighbouring genre with a tendency to veer into ostentation, he’s graduated to more sincere, sensitive production. Thanks to Crossan’s knowing arrangements, his diverse squad of collabs – both big-name (Damon Albarn, Christine & The Queens, A$AP Rocky) and leftfield (Tom Tripp, Desiigner, A. K. Paul) – have the elbow room to flourish, complementing and defining the tracks they helm. It’s that ability to make the album as much about his guests as his own emerging sound that confirms Mura Masa as an intelligent producer with an exciting road ahead.
Listen to: 1 Night, NOTHING ELSE!, Second 2 None