We all need a little pop music in our life. We have to have something to listen to while we're getting ready for Saturday night or cutting the asparagus. An album does not have to be an oh-so-serious neoclassical drone statement to be taken seriously.
A record DOES, however, have to have some surprises. If something sounds like something you've heard before, the ears tend to skip it, a phenomena that put the nail in dubstep a few years ago, as illustration. With pop-influenced music, sometimes you have to peak beneath the hood to tell if it stands up.
Ty by Cleveland producer Tyler Sellers definitely does as he reveals himself when you read between the anthemic synths and club beats. The most standout feature is Sellers' voice, which has an impassioned edge to it, somehow delicate and emotional, while still being strong and in tune. On "Islands,” which sounds like Bon Iver covering a Snoop Lion song, Sellers' pushes his vocals just a little bit beyond the comfort zone, putting a bit of strain and edge in the higher register that brings to mind one of this year's breakout singles, Sia's "Chandelier.” Like "Chandelier" this is an example of how to make adventurous and heartfelt pop music.
Ty doesn't quite meet the production standards of very glossy pop club music, which makes it occupy an interesting intersection. All of the sounds are excellent in their own right but the individual elements don't always come together to form a unified whole, as you can hear on the 8-bit casino synths of "Islands.” This is basically a raw, up-and-coming record from a new producer. The ambition is there, however, as you can hear with the children's choir on "No. 3.”
The recording doesn't have to be perfect when the songwriting is good and it consistently is on Ty. The beats tell you all that you need to know, shifting from steady, sturdy 4/4 club thumpers to dragging, gnarly glitch hop ("Mitosis") to the avant-footwork bounce of "Cool Whip.” The beats tell you how much time and attention a producer spends with their music. Tiny fluctuations reveal an intricate ear and genuinely caring about a song and what will make it work the best. The beats show that they are paying attention.
The voice, the beats...there's a number of things that guide you into Ty, to make you pay attention, to make you care. It is obvious that Tyler Sellers cares; it comes across in the in-between spaces.
If you listen to enough music, people's motivations begin to show. Part of what makes a lot of pop music so ignorable, if not reprehensible, is they are only seeking money or fame and their music seems hollow. With Tyler Sellers, one gets the sense that he just wants people to dance and have a good time, while expressing himself in the process. The world is a better place for it. Pure hearts speak louder than the pushiest marketing campaigns, and Tyler Sellers deserves to be heard!
Ty gets progressively more accomplished as it goes along becoming insanely infectious, getting in your bloodstream. He's clearly getting better and better and is one to watch. For anyone that liked the Black Eyed Peas before they become advertising sonic warfare, or for fans of mutant dancehall like Popcaan, check this one out.
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