After years of writing hits for some of pop’s biggest divas, MNEKsteps into the foreground with his debut album, Language. The 23-year-old kicked off the campaign with the utterly fantastic “Tongue”back in March. The club-ready anthem highlighted his evocative vocals and clever lyricism as he struggled with admitting his feelings to a partner. Saying “I love you” has never sounded more anxiety-inducing, but it is an equally thrilling prospect. As big as the lead single was, the Brit eclipsed it by linking up with Hailee Steinfeldon “Colour.” A fitting follow-up, it is about the transformative powers of love. “Before you came into my life everything was black and white. Now all I see is colour,” they sing over the effervescent beats.
Things got more serious on his next buzz track, “Crazy World.” Here the production races forward as MNEK reflects on the state of the world, touching on issues including racism and homophobia. “Where do you go when you’re out of places to run,” he asks on the bridge. “So when the world is too much, don’t let it go. If you need someone to turn to, I’ll be there for you. Cause in this crazy world you’re not alone.” This vow centers the track, and his lush vocals offer a respite to anyone searching for solace. He switched things up once again on “Correct.” “The wait is over, you’re now rocking with the best,” he confidently declares. This sounds like another potential hit.
After months of dropping sublime tracks, today (September 7), the rest of the project arrived. And it is just as strong as the content we have already digested. “For too long I’ve been in the background, baby. It’s time to step up to the front now so you can hear me out,” he intones on “Background.” The brief opener includes a laugh-out-loud portion where a girl learns how to pronounce the rising star’s name at a party. This smoothly transitions into “Correct.” The anthem is smartly placed toward the front-end of the LP, and its smooth production offers just a taste of what is to come. As it turns out, the LP tells a cohesive story of love and loss as MNEK captures the different stages of a relationship.
Almost immediately “Body” emerges as a clear highlight on the hit-filled tracklist. A synth-driven masterpiece, it is about getting intimate with a partner. “Cause I may only speak English, but another language I know is body,” he cleverly croons on the chorus. “You seem tense. So come on over. Let me know your body. Cause I know your heart, I know your mind. Give me something, I can hold, like your body.” The masterpiece deserves to be released as an official single in the coming months, and it flawlessly moves into “Honeymoon Phaze.”
Showing off his deeper register, the moody R&B anthem picks up as a couple moves beyond the start of their relationship. “Remember when we used to be sweet? Can we get back to that please,” he implores. Instead things gets even more strained as they address infidelity on “Girlfriend.” After a quick interlude, the barbed track sees MNEK addressing his boyfriend who is still involved with a woman. Urging his partner to come out and leave her, he makes a strong argument.
Meanwhile on “Paradise” he searches for an escape from reality with his beloved. The electro-kissed production and whimsical lyrics make for a high point on the album. This is another potential single, and it signifies an emotional transition. Moving forward, he attempts to let go of a failed relationship. Static distorts his voice on the opening lines of “Free.” He captures the exact moment he is able to let go and marks it with a euphoric breakdown. “So this is my apology. I send this love with honesty,” he sings, adding “I know it’s time I set you free.”
The track is that moment of closure everyone desires, and MNEK effortlessly transforms it into a breath of fresh air. However, the album closer “Touched By You” makes it clear that he hasn’t yet managed to fully heal from a broken heart. Instead, he finds himself chasing romance with a rebound. “I don’t miss you, but the truth is that he felt like you. And he kissed like you,” he sings on the tender ballad. “And for a second, it was like I was touched by you.”
All things considered, it is good that MNEK explained how to pronounce him name on the opener. Because Language is good enough to make the rising star a household name. The album captures a wealth of emotions associated with love. And it portrays them over some of the boldest and most innovative pop productions we have heard in 2018. From start to finish, it is utterly engaging and a total win.
Stream Language in full below!
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