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Isaiah Mclaughlin – ‘Narcissist’

by Thomas Bedward January 08, 2021

Isaiah Mclaughlin – ‘Narcissist’

A Colorado native, Isaiah Mclaughlin is part of a new wave of artists who are set to make their mark in 2021, taking hold of the new year with a style and readiness that is just as disarming as their music. After first landing on the music scene in 2019 with the release of debut single ‘Venom’, Isaiah launched himself into a creative fervour, taking lead from musical legends like Michael Jackson, Prince, and Freddie Mercury to create a tight-knit trilogy of EP’s. Throughout last year, Isaiah introduced us all to the acclaimed EP’s of ‘Revolution’ and ‘Dreams’, but now, with the new year still in its infancy, he’s hit us all with the brilliant ‘Narcissist’.

An immersive six-track release, Isaiah explained that every song on ‘Narcissist’ was written, sung, produced, and engineered by him, ensuring a complete and unadulterated creative vision that perfectly encapsulates his sound, style, and influences. While a natural successor to his previous EP’s, his latest release was designed to explore more of his vocal capabilities, building upon the dark, almost aggressive pop sounds of his previous work with a more expansive and uniquely expressive vocal quality.

Lashing out with a subdued electronic sound that rivals that of early electronic noise-art pioneers such as Crystal Castles and Autokratz, the EP begins with ‘At Night’, a shimmering, semi-industrial pop piece that clings to the shadow of a club anthem. It’s a track that hits hard, knocks you off guard and then leaves you stranded in a strange, sea of competing, sonic sounds. Unique to say the least, it’s a track that sets the tone for the EP, unleashing a rampant new age style that revels in non-conformity. Second track ‘Like A Witch’ carries on with the same triumphs and tragedies as it’s partner, delving into a darker, more immersive sound without fear or respite. Here, Isaiah’s vocals transition between resisters and tones, offering a haunting ambient soundscape spiked with dramatic experimental flair, as well as fulfilling his promise to explore more of his range.

In ‘Shy Boy’ and ‘Have You Ever Wondered?’, Isaiah leaves you stranded in a mid-point between the predecessors, taking elements of both songs and blending them into a cacophony of digital tones, while on ‘Why Should I Care?’ he hits you like a strange acid trip, spiralling out of control with calling vocals, percussive tones, and a fractured central melody that stitches itself together through fleeting electronic sounds and dark trap tempos. As you fight to regain composure, the title track arrives to close proceedings, serving up a dizzying, almost strobe-like array of sounds, that flitter through genres with pace, creating a visceral race to an undetermined end.

It’s clear from the new EP that Isaiah lives in his own experimental realm, and while it might be beautifully unique space, it’s not always easily accessible. Initial listeners to ‘Narcissist’ may have some scratching their heads and wondering where the magic of the tracks is, but Isaiah is no conventional artists, and so to look for conventional answers just won’t do. Without a guiding hand, ‘Narcissist’ leaves you at the mercy of Isaiah’s bold and uncompromising style, and it’s clear that’s just how he wants it.

A vibrant, enigmatic, and easily misunderstood release, ‘Narcissist’ is like the dark, evil twin of Yeasayer’s ‘Odd Blood’, and for better or worse, it's easily one of this year’s most experimental and unyielding independent releases.

You can stream ‘Narcissist’ in full today on all Spotify and Apple Music, and you can find all of Isaiah’s music here. Plus, be sure to follow Isaiah on his social media pages below so you never miss a release.

Score: 4/10

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