Album Review: Weiland is Not Afraid to Experiment with the Familiar on "Vices"
Weiland is a rapper/artist new to the scene and quick to take it by storm. His short but eclectic discography is enough to showcase his credibility and talent in the music industry. By evolving genres and experimenting with his sound on each record, it is clear these are the beginning works of an artist who will revolutionize where music can go. Lots of new and exciting stuff has happened recently for Weiland. First, his recent move from Tampa, Florida to New York. Then, on April 22, 2022, Weiland released an album that could very well define his career. He first gained popularity while releasing pluggnb and rap/hip hop. It fell in line with the sounds of SoundCloud rappers with heavy auto tune and melodies under a subgenre of trap music. While sonically separate from the rest of his work, Vices proves that taking chances, trusting your gut, and believing in your work is all worth it in the end. Vices is a perfect mixture of familiarity and innovation that listeners need from their music. It works because listeners are comfortable with refreshing the sound of synth-pop. He makes it new with breathy vocals, clouded by music and a hint of his beginnings of rap. Weiland took what we know and created a cinematic listening experience. This is an album for synth pop lovers looking to venture out. It’s for people who listen to movie soundtracks and playlist curators.
With his discography totaling four albums, each has a sound uniquely its own. Each provides an insight to Weiland’s process of discovering his sound- reading as chapters to his career. The self-titled album Weiland was a step toward the alternative genre we currently have with Vices. He stepped away from pluggnb and experimented more within pop and rap. Famous for posting snippets of upcoming material on Instagram, Weiland often leaves fans eager for new music. Though the previews posted for Vices did not make the final cut, it showed his process of creating a cohesive album. Doing so takes time and the understanding that not everything will work the first time around. Art is evolving, and that includes music. Fans became clear a change was coming with future releases, and he was not shy to show this evolution. Whether it’s through the step by step process of making a song, or by changing genres.
When releasing songs in anticipation for Vices, the first single “Heart Stop” did not make the final cut of the album. It did, however, preview the direction of this record. It also provided the knowledge of his working with producer and songwriter Mike Dean. Famous for working with artists such as Kanye West, Travis Scott, and Drake- this collaboration solidifies Weiland’s place in the scene. Given that Weiland is a fan of artists such as Kanye and Daft Punk, Dean was the perfect producer to help him gain traction in the kind of music he dreamed of creating. This pairing allowed Weiland to not only create a new sound, but for Dean to step a bit outside his normal realm of artists. He gave Vices the production it needed to be familiar and blend with the newer sounds and material given by Weiland.
From start to finish this record feels visual. “Slipping Into the Void” gives that slo-mo action scene where the main actor is pushing their way through the club to find their enemy-turned-lover. It was the perfect introduction to the rest of the album. “Dangerous Woman” and “Mellotron” show an evolution of self, where we see a hint of his past style in the style of auto tune. Where the main characters are running in the rain to their partners home to apologize, or the montage of their new life after the breakup. Each song contributes to the visual experience of storytelling in this record. Where each has their own sound, they feel fitting to different scenes in an semi-anxiety-inducing-action-film (see: movies such as Good Time).
With an 80’s beat and vocals, “Hard Time” stands out as the epitome of who Weiland is as an artist and what he feels comfortable in creating. That being said, “Blaming Myself” may be tied as the jewel of the record. The two latter songs had not only the new synth and familiar vocals, but lyrically were more vulnerable than previous work. It is refreshing to hear lyrics that are more genuine and personal. It accompanies the sound in a way that gives listeners a story and feeling to grasp onto. Vices is a completely cohesive album, making his intentions as an artist clear. Each song makes sense in its tracking, and flows nicely into one another. There is no one song that is egregiously unfitting. Each song is intentional. Each made for the structural integrity of the record and have a purpose of feeding something new to the song that came before.
For those who like to listen to artists before they blow up- here is your chance. To witness an artist slip easily and comfortably into a new sound is a rarity. He is not wary of experimentation or evolution. Listeners and fans of Weiland get to witness this with each song and snippet as he continues to experiment with his sound.Vices attests to his abilities to take what is known and turn it into a new self-expressive outlet. The collaboration with Mike Dean so early in his career is telling of his talent and only validates the creativity he holds. Charting between Taylor Swift’s most recent albums within the first week, there is no telling the heights he will reach as he continues his career. A bit of a hint to fans of synth pop- you do not want to miss the experience of this record. To those looking for a new artist with a range, look no further than Weiland.