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Jack Harlow is an enthralling, tall, and more and more chiseled 24-year-old man who sports activities a mop of curly hair, impossibly tamed and complemented by a youthful beard, sharp blue eyes, a coy smile, and a honking diamond earring in every lobe. Like all good heartthrob, he loves antics—he’s desperate to flirt with girls he’s simply met and say, I love you, or just act like a goober in public. His second album, Come Dwelling the Children Miss You, reveals that the showmanship is merely a distraction from some insipid, vacuous music. Harlow’s charisma doesn’t translate onto the document, and, as a substitute, we’re left with a one-trick pony and not using a discernible trick, a reliable rapper who doesn’t circulation intricately or write impressively, a pop star who struggles to hold a tune on his personal.
Harlow’s origin story is repeated usually: At age 12, he determined he wished to be a rapper and started working, practising, recording, and promoting CDs in school. By 19, he made “Darkish Knight,” the tune that launched a major-label bidding struggle for his abilities and, in the end, landed him a take care of the once-promising Atlantic imprint Era Now. Nearly two years later, he made his first good tune and true hit, “Whats Poppin”; then, after releasing his debut studio album, the Harlow hype machine went into hyperdrive with “Trade Child,” the Lil Nas X single the place Harlow dutifully carried out the position of the straight man within the proudly homosexual music video. Subsequent to Lil Nas X, Harlow delivered among the finest verses of his profession, too, his down-the-middle method an applicable complement to his co-star’s extra fluid supply.
Stripped of an applicable foil, nonetheless, Harlow’s swagger is muted. Regardless of an air of pomp, lead single “Nail Tech” is limp, largely attributable to its chintzy beat and Harlow’s reluctant vocals. He’s too informal on the tune, as if he’s afraid to veer away from his tried and true circulation for one thing extra expressive. Within the music video, for instance, he stands tall in a tank prime holding three canines, like he’s DMX, and he raps, “You ain’t certainly one of my canines, why do you hound us?” He winks, sneers, and mockingly snaps his hand as he mouths, “hound,” however any implied aggression or magnetism is misplaced on the recorded observe.
Harlow’s capability to rap effectively by some means acts as a hindrance to his capability to make good songs. He doesn’t have a definable trait or tick that may very well be parodied, preferring to maintain issues tidy and likewise make horrible allusions. (The worst is perhaps “Can’t lie, I’m on Angus Cloud 9” as a result of “You already know I wish to dictate issues, Kim Jong” is so clearly silly that it should be a joke.) His easy method is just like these of fellow Southerners Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby, the form of bars-first-but-also-make-it-pop throwback rappers who possibly wouldn’t have stood out within the industrial panorama of the 2000s, however are anomalies within the day and age of vibes. Not like them, nonetheless, Harlow doesn’t make vibrant songs on Come Dwelling the Children Miss You. The album, for essentially the most half, consists of a monochromatic palette of generic “easy” beats, one simply bleeding into the following. Musically, it’s unfulfilling, missing standout melodies or thrilling rhythms. The sound of Come Dwelling the Children Miss You, in flip, is about as refined and attention-grabbing as a Daniel Arsham sculpture, neat at a look however vapid upon any prolonged interrogation.
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