Artist: Starchild & The New Romantic
Title: Language
Cat#: ARTPL-100
Format: 2CD / Digital
※解説: 高橋芳朗

Release Date: CD 2018.03.02(※日本先行) / Digital 2017.02.23(世界同時)
2,250yen + tax

ブラッド・オレンジの最新作にヴォーカルでフィーチャーされ、盟友であるDev HynesとはVeilHymnというユニットを結成している他、ソランジュやカインドネス等のサポートもつとめてきたBryndon Cookによるプロジェクト、Starchild & The New Romanticが待望のファースト・フル・アルバムを完成!日本盤CDのみEP『Crucial』をボーナス・ディスクとして追加した2枚組仕様でCDは日本先行発売!

ワシントンDCで生まれ、メリーランド/ヴァージニア・エリアで育ち、幼少期からGo-Go、Soul、Hip Hop、R&B、Jazz、そして特にGospelに触れ、デューク・エリントン、マーヴィン・ゲイ、Mya、Dru Hill、ディアンジェロ、ジョージ・クリントン等をルーツにしつつ、プリンスとシャーデーに多大な影響を受けたという。ちなみにStarchildというアーティスト名はP-Funk mythologyから参照している(コンセプト・アルバム『Mothership Connection』に登場するジョージ・クリントン扮する聖なるエイリアンが「スターチャイルド」)。


音楽的にも精神的にも、彼はプロデューサーのジミー・ジャムとテリー・ルイスを見て、ニュー・ジャック・スウィング時代とポップ・ミュージックへの貢献を研究し、自らの制作をしつつ、Blood Orange(Dev HynesとはVeilHymnというユニットを結成している)やSolange、Kindness、Chairlift等の作品への参加やライヴ・サポートをするなど、様々な経験を経ていき、2012年にSoundxOfxSamやJames Pantsをプロデューサーに迎え、セルフ・デジタル・リリースにてEP『Night Music』をリリース。そしてその才能に注目したGhostly Internationalが契約を果たし、2016年にEP『Crucial』をデジタル&12インチでリリース。そして本作が待望のファースト・フル・アルバムである。

緩急の効いたリズムとドライヴィンなキーボードが絶妙なバランスで融合し、自身の躍動感のあるヴォーカルをレイヤードし、レイドバックした70’sスタイルのファンク・バラードからウージーなR&Bのテイストに、彼の英雄であるプリンスの無邪気さを反映しつつ、甘くソウルフルなテイストからルーズでファンキーなエッセンスまでをスイング。彼曰く「Champion Music for the Heartbroken」という感情を揺さぶるダンサブル且つメロウなサウンドは、まさに現代版プリンスとも言える極上のサウンド。


Language, the full-length debut from Starchild & The New Romantic, is the sound of Bryndon Cook occupying his space with unapologetic eloquence, envisioning a world where the crimson qualities of sensitivity and softness aren’t shamed, they are celebrated as magic.

“Black boys have a whole world of complexity that society makes us stomp out of ourselves.” Language communicates Cook’s refusal to do so. Describing himself early-on as a “young romantic boy from Maryland,” he’s long been a dreamer, a student of Black music’s rich lineage and its intersection with pop. Cook is drawn to landmark moments where artists have found truth in darkness; the diverse language of music living in their core. These records in which phrases and motifs are deployed to document worth and define perspective, identity, calls to action. The pop album as artistic statement, as thesis. This record is his; lifting off from the monochrome world of Crucial, his 2016 EP on Ghostly International, up towards a dazzling blood-rush of sky-high defiance and autonomy. On Language, Cook refines his phonics for funk, electro, and R&B, and arrives at a revelation, best summarized by a single motto: “my sensitivity is my strength.”

The artist is bold and mercurial, using the album format to champion intersectionality and challenge notions and binaries; old and new, black and white, religiosity and sexuality. At first, the objectives were more intimate; he wrote as a means of diversion and catharsis. Lyrically, the album fixates on dissipated love, detailing his dependence on the device that once linked him to his former partner during tours.

“When I wrote these songs, the sunshine of my mind was beginning to set in a dark place. I found myself developing almost a surrogate relationship with my telephone. I would fall asleep at night clutching it, waiting for a call. When we parted, I would become attached to my phone as a conduit to this person I had lost. Melodies came to me all over the world. Quite often, hooks and choruses, which were catchy to me and distracted my mind from the immense, earth-shattering pain I was being railroaded through.”

Even if the valleys of their relationship were debilitating – a “black goth realm” to his soul, as Cook puts it – he often overlooks them in hopes of more peaks, more light, resulting in his most earnest, warm-hearted material to date. Take the tender single, “Hangin On.” Cook beams above a prismatic soul-tinged shuffle and luminescent keys, still visited by the past yet at peace with the present:

Fell asleep last night / Thinking about you. Saw you in my sleep, chased you till morning came. My mama said “follow your dreams” / Well I guess you were my warning. Now I’ve let myself go / Hope you’re still holding on

The pitch is far more pointed on the album’s title track, a vibrant, funk-fueled opener that wastes little time making its purpose heard. “Should have stuck with me kid,” Cook begins, as nasty as he is rapturous. By its end, he’s in full control. “Can I get a witness?” He screams, invoking the power of an affirmation ushered from church aisles into the lexicon by Kirk Franklin.

Sonically and spiritually, Cook finds guidance in grand standards: looking up to producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, studying their contributions to the New Jack Swing era and pop music at large. Touchstone statements like Janet Jackson’s Control, Michael Jackson’s Bad, and Prince’s 1999. Singular breakout LPs from Terence Trent D’Arby and Bobby Brown. The honesty of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and Carole King’s Tapestry; the ingenuity of Laurie Anderson. Cook also reflects on recent years with Solange, as part of her touring band, and collaborations with Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange, as reminders of artistic individuality. “Being around them now urges me to find my own way of delivering my own messages.”

Cook expands his message and its impact by arranging talents. For the first time, sessions included members of his band, The New Romantic, allowing for keyboard/synth parts to be recorded straight-through, with no punch-ins, and a more dynamic atmosphere overall. Further, Cook recruits The Newark Boys Chorus to underscore the most poignant lines of “Boys Choir,” giving them the entire stage for the coda: “Be it understood. / This love is mine.” Moves like this get to the root of the record: a contemplation of the boyhood that never truly leaves us. “In the Black community, any sign of femininity or childlike wonder is often misconstrued as weakness, because society has always expected us to be strong. They prey on us as kids and take us to prison like adults. They kill us on the street.”

Here, elevated, inside the carmine dust of Language, those pressures and boundaries evaporate. “We land on the moon, and we dance on it,” proclaims Cook. “We scream up there where no one can judge us.”


01. Language
02. Mood
03. Only If U Knew
04. Hands Off
05. Hangin’ On
06. Black Diamond
07. Ophelia’s Room
08. Some People I Know
09. Can I Come Over?
10. Doubts
11. Good Stuff
12. Boys Choir
13. Lost Boys
14. Hand To God

DISC 2 (Crucial EP – CD only Bonus Disc):
01. All My Lovers
02. Slammin’ Mannequin
03. Relax
04. Love Interlude
05. Stacy
06. Woman’s Dress
07. New Romantic
08. Crucial

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