Kwes is a hopeless romantic, leaning on smooth, easygoing seduction, no pick-up lines or sly womanizing tactics necessary. He’s all about the charm, whether swooning from unrequited love or pouring out his compassionate heart. These sensitive, thoughtful instincts have helped create a stacked collaboration roster, ranging from Damon Albarn to The xx. As a producer, he does all this as an admirer locked behind his computer, the distanced longing making him his own best friend and worst enemy on his debut album, Ilp. While the instrumentation becomes redundant, his ambitious headlong dive into romanticism is admirable.
Love is a tricky game, one that typically benefits from a confident approach. To bolster that confidence, Kwes lays back on “36” before making a move, groovy piano melodies and rattling bass riffs setting the mood. The UK producer assumes the role of a musical psuedo-Hitch, his soothing falsetto uniting the disparate pieces of the song. Kwes lyrically dips into his romantic life, stemming from the fear of falling too deep on “flower”, improving relationship fitness on “b_shf_l”. Awe-striking silences highlight the colorful production on “hives” and “changall”. The record’s reveb-heavy ambiance ripples in small doses, but minor alterations to the formula would deepen the emotional impact.
While Ilp proves he can walk the walk, he often fails to talk the talk. The musical transparency is replaced in his lyrics with cryptic comparisons, most evident in “purplehands” and “cablecar”. On these tracks, his over-poetic metaphors occasionally hit upon some meaning, perhaps, but often fail to make an impression.
The most memorable relationships are simple, invigorating, and fun. Kwes’s romantic, lo-fi tendencies brush the surface of this foundation, but fail to hit upon anything unique or dynamic. After a few dates with Ilp, his introverted cuteness will probably wear off.
Essential Tracks: “36”, “hives”