The thematic vibe and introduction of a more electronic sound imbue Khalid’s new EP, “Suncity,” with a unique tonal quality that accomplishes the artist’s goal of starting “a new era” of his music. Released on Friday, the pop-induced R&B EP contains seven tracks total, two being instrumental interludes. His next full album is due in early 2019.
The tracks contained in the EP work best as they are presented: In an EP, and not in a full album. One can tell the experimental quality of the songs, differing from the confident, upbeat tones of “American Teen.” His songs are more dreamy in their presentation, with some lyrics overlaid with electronic beats. The EP feels like a sampling of a niche sound that seeks to tell a story, one that the EP neatly and properly accomplishes. The thematic interludes, as well as vocal radio overlays at the ends of the other songs, set the tone of a light-hearted yet cryptic story that begins with the audio of the “key of the city of El Paso” being presented to Khalid. A full-blown album would lessen the charm of Khalid’s wispy lyrics and ambiguous messages of love and life.
“9.13” and “Salem’s Interlude” provide two lyric-less interludes on the track, instead containing slow beats that are present throughout the EP like a motif and overlaid with vocal announcers speaking about “being fearful of being embarrassed/I think hinder me from doing the best I can sometimes/if I learn to be less fearful, I can get farther/I think it’s really nice how far being a genuine person can get you.” The philosophical tone of the audio overlays elevate “Suncity” from the lighthearted homage it appears to be to a thoughtful compilation cleverly subdued with Khalid’s naturally dream-like voice.
The acoustic guitar in “Saturday Nights” showcases Khalid’s versatility in his music, shifting from the silker and more ethereal “Vertigo” in which Khalid sings lyrics like “Are we alive?/Or are we dreaming?” “Saturday Nights” speaks of a relationship punctuated with, well, Saturday nights, and leaves more to the imagination with his description of the relationship with his lyrics.
The title track, “Suncity,” features artist Empress Of and presents a welcome and pleasant shift in tone. “Suncity” proves to be an upbeat and bouncy track with backing Spanish vocals, in comparison to the drifting and chill quality of the aptly-named “Motion.”
"More than anything in life right now I want growth.” Khalid said in a statement to Billboard. “I want my music to grow and represent how I am growing up. Suncity is the start of a new era for me, this music poured out of me and I didn’t want to wait to share it. I wanted to be able to live in this moment with my fans and my friends and speak from the heart.”
“Suncity” is a snippet of the more intricate sound that Khalid will soon come out with, and he was wise to keep it short and sweet to leave his audience wondering what his new album will sound like. Although I do feel some may be turned away from the music because of the less grounded presentation of the songs, with his lyrics drifting at the end of lines and overlaid with electronic sounds, I would say most people will appreciate his incorporation of other aspects of the pop and R&B genres to provide a diverse EP. I may not turn on all of the songs of “Suncity” at a party, but it accomplishes the chill vibe that Khalid had expressed proficiency with “American Teen” and accomplishes it well. The amount of times I’ve replayed it since its release proves that.
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.