The Undertow: Fruut is one of Philadelphia’s best new lo-fi artists

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You know when you go through photos the morning after a party and the blurry ones bring back clearer memories than their well-taken counterparts? That is the only way to describe the allure of low-fidelity or “lo-fi” music; a genre that aims for intentional imperfections in recording for aesthetic purposes. I understand this isn’t the best seller, but you have likely heard its effects without realizing: Artists like Clairo and mxmtoon have brought the burgeoning genre into the mainstream, racking up hundreds of millions of listens. However, some of the best examples of lo-fi music come from local music scenes, where artists’ inability to use high fidelity equipment is not a stylistic choice – it is their only option. The “beginner” quality of a true, DIY artist has this magic-in-a-bottle energy that few major label artists can replicate. 

Fruut is one of the best artists in the genre. The moniker of Dani Mullen, Fruut encapsulates what makes homemade indie music so charming, but unfortunately, barely anyone outside of the Philadelphia scene knows who they are and that is a shame. Although they have not been in the game for that long, Fruut’s masterful synthesizer work caught some attention, as they are nearing 2,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Consider this my called shot for when they have 200,000.  

Their debut full-length project available on most streaming platforms, “All About You,” dropped this past February and boasts 41 minutes of hypnotic R&B-inspired lo-fi that will leave you rocking your head before you even realize. I could pick several cuts, but one of the standout tracks for my money is “Games,” a layered lovesick song that could easily be a moody chart-topper if anyone knew it existed. An impassioned guest verse from North Philly rapper Nazeer Art’aud caps off what is a near-perfect song. “Sour,” the slow-burning close to the mixtape, features a rare acoustic guitar in the otherwise largely electronic project and it is beautiful, yet heart-wrenching. It is the definition of sweet and sour.  

Fruut showed no signs of stopping after their first mixtape and recently dropped a steady stream of singles on Spotify and Bandcamp. Their latest, “Been Letting You Go,” continues their trend of melancholy songs that you want to put on whether or not you are in your bag.  

“I’ve been in my head lately – please take this with salt, like your shots,” they sing in the first line of a diatribe against an unnamed lover. It hurts to listen to, but that is the sign of great penmanship.   

Considering how quickly lo-fi is enveloping the indie-pop landscape, it can be easy to lose sight of which artists are genuine in their minimalist production and which are adopting the aesthetic. To make things harder, the difference between the two is so minuscule that it is hard to put into words since the genre’s imperfections are deliberate choices. But you can just feel it. With Fruut, one of the most promising young artists in the city I was born and raised in, you can tell. You vibe into the muffled synthesizers and you can almost feel the crowded walls of the Philly basement this might be played in. Enveloping is an understatement.  

If you need a new favorite artist to follow, Fruut is ripe for the picking.  

Thumbnail photo courtesy of picnano.com


Daniel Cohn is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.cohn@uconn.edu.

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