Peter Holslin thinks cassette tapes are sexy
I’m picturing a bedroom on the moon. Two lovers are tangled on a purple divan. Tendrils of burning sage float in zero gravity. And on a dresser-drawer, a Sony Walkman ripples with the New Age R&B love vibes of Matthewdavid’s new album, In My World.
The beat-maker born Matthew McQueen is a known cassette fiend, dublab conjurer and Low End Theory staple. But on this new record off of Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label, he proves himself a decent writer of love songs as well. In My World is straight baby-making music for the elevated-minds set. The dub-wise bass, spaced-out textures, and electronic beats—which get their funk from being just slightly off center—is stuff any beat head could appreciate. But it’s the L.A. producer’s sweet, clear voice that really lures listeners into his astral love den.
“There’s no one around/ You can call on me,” he coos in “Cosmic Caller,” a glistening slow-jam that sounds like it was beamed down from Venus. McQueen may be an avowed New Ager, but songs like these also situate him in the context of late-’80s New Jack Swing. It isn’t the songwriting itself, per se, which isn’t sharp enough to be on Teddy Riley’s level (see: the meandering melody of “Perpetual Moon Moods”). It’s more the attitude: His willingness to go for it and make his feelings known, no matter what anyone thinks.
As is the case with some New Jack classics, Matthewdavid can come off a wee-bit cheesy. But he owns his loving moods, and like the driver of a ’64 Cadillac hovercar, he has good navigational sense. On In My World’s title track, he slides into some nimble, melodious raps like a pro. Once things get real steamy, he cranks up the aching bass throbs for instrumental track “The Mood is Right.” And just when you’re ready for another round, he finds new bliss with the starry-eyed synths and soulful guitar strums of “Next to You Always.”
For an album about pure love, In My World feels like a truncated journey. This is partly due to the 30-minute run time, but also because of the frustrating closing track, “Birds in Flight,” which floats on a bed of ethereal comedown textures before suddenly cutting off without warning. “Wait, that’s it?” is not a thought you want to leave your listener meditating on. Still, songwriting is like sex in that way—sometimes it takes a few tries to get in the groove. Hopefully Matthewdavid’s pop-craft will be stronger next time around. For now, he still has some gems.