Bladee metamorphosizes once again on ‘Spiderr’
Swedish rapper and self-proclaimed Drain Gang CEO Bladee has been polarizing listeners since 2013. Drenched in autotune, his signature vocal style has turned more than a few people away from his music. In addition, his transition in recent years from dark emo rap such as on his 2016 album “Eversince” to lighter, more optimistic music has divided his fanbase.
Whether you love or hate Bladee, there is one thing that has always remained constant: His unrelenting creativity. Nowhere does Bladee exhibit this more than on his newest album, “Spiderr.” It feels like an amalgamation of every sound he has worked with across his career, with some new styles thrown in as well.
If Bladee’s past run of projects beginning with 2020’s “Exeter” illustrated his journey of reaching for a higher plane of existence through newfound spirituality, “Spiderr” sees him coming back down to Earth with what he’s learned. “I might be forever fried but at least I tried,” Bladee sings on “She’s Always Dancing,” a reference to the tale of Icarus.
“Perfection is just an illusion and a punishment of love,” Bladee raps on “Icarus 3reestyle.” While reaching the Sun may be impossible, Bladee can still try to get as close as he can by being true to himself.
On “Blue Crush Angel,” Bladee reflects on his darker music from the past. “Still the same, but I grew up, up from whatever that was.” In the album opener, “Understatement,” he calls out fans who can’t appreciate the messages he tells; “Take your pity off, maybe listen up.”
These are just a few of the many lyrical highlights that populate “Spiderr.” Bladee’s lyrics serve as a reflection of his state of mind in each project and create a cohesive arc across his career.
Fellow Drain Gang member Whitearmor produced the majority of “Spiderr.” The beats across this project are both cohesive in tone and diverse in style, serving as the perfect backdrop for Bladee’s unique lyrical palette. “Understatement” features a glitchy British drill-inspired beat, while “I Am Slowly but Surely Losing Hope” goes full pop-punk. Slower, more ambient tracks such as the gorgeous closer “Uriel Outro” mix unexpectedly well with faster, percussion-driven songs like “Icarus 3freestyle” and “Hahah.”
Although not his best project, I believe that “Spiderr,” like “Exeter,” will represent a key transitional point in Bladee’s music. Experimenting with sounds both new and old, this project once again proves that he is one of the most consistent, creative artists working today.
“I actually feel like my work is a lot about trying to express the perfect thing I’m imagining,” he said in an interview with Highsnobiety. “Spiderr” feels like yet another step forward to completing his vision.
Rating: Strong 3.5/5
Bladee’s ‘Spiderr’ is another successful experimental endeavor
To say Bladee is an unusual artist would be an understatement. The 28-year-old Swedish rapper, aka Benjamin Reichwald, consistently releases music teeming with highly processed and distinctive vocals, unconventional instrumentals and peculiar lyrical passages. You never have to worry about finding something in his songs that you’ve heard before.
But Bladee’s listeners know that’s his thing, and he continues this pattern on his new release, “Spiderr.” This project is different from his previous work, even compared to the albums he released in the last two years. Ultimately, Bladee prioritizes experimentation in his music, something that can make his progression both interesting and somewhat baffling.
Despite his penchant for variation, Bladee has kept some aspects of his sound consistent for many years. Immediately in the first track, “Understatement,” we get a glimpse into Bladee’s classic vocal sound. His music has always included heavy autotune, but while it used to almost feel jarringly excessive, it is a well-crafted aspect of his sound now.
The second track, “Its Ok To Not Be Ok,” is a slower, more ambient track without any drums. It’s relatively simple and an ethereal track that displays Bladee’s ability to effectively capture a calm feeling. On the other hand, tracks like “I Am Slowly But Surely Losing Hope” and “Velociraptor” incorporate a high-energy, hyperpop feel that shows up several times throughout the project.
The song “Nothingg” is another controlled track, and it focuses more on melodic vocals and a memorable melody on a metallic-sounding pluck. Toward the end of the album, “She’s Always Dancing” and “Uriel Outro” were likewise centered around an ethereal atmosphere, a motif that shines on this album.
Bladee doesn’t only operate in the music industry alone; instead, he spearheads Drain Gang, a group that also includes artists Ecco2k and Thaiboy Digital, as well as producer Whitearmor. Though Bladee’s last album was a comprehensive collaboration with Ecco2k, this album is largely a solo endeavor. Though we don’t see much from the two other artists in the group, the project highlights producer Whitearmor’s caliber and evident improvements over time. Especially on calmer tracks, intricate melodic details shine alongside stellar sound design.
Bladee includes a fair amount of genre-hopping both within this album, and from project to project. While he maintains a characteristic sound that is instantly recognizable, his albums tend to have a fair amount of contrast with each other, which individual listeners must decide whether they appreciate or not. I appreciated the chemistry that Bladee and Whitearmor show on this album — especially when it came to calmer, more ethereal tracks.
Bladee’s sound is definitely not for everyone, and there are several songs that stand out less than others. Admittedly, Bladee’s vocals are best listened to in moderation. That aside, this album is up there with Bladee’s best work, another experimental project that proves that his style knows no bounds.