Written by Kelsey Raynor
When Yung Lean first emerged almost a decade ago when he was simply a teenager, it was easy to dismiss his music and Sad Boys as being no more than a joke between friends. The endless array of Tumblr art and Facebook memes dedicated to Leandoer and the group didn’t help matters either. However, over most recent years and particularly 2016 onwards, Yung Lean’s music has taken a more serious, progressive approach and his voice isn’t just being heard but his story and his songs are being appreciated more and more.
Whilst fans were pleasantly surprised with the announcement of a tour during August, we were evermore delighted with the release of Red Bottom Sky, Skimask and more recently Metallic Intuition to provoke even more enthusiasm towards yet another Yung Lean tour.
The 21-year-old Swedish innovator of music is an artist that many would regard as far from ordinary and would hone as diverse, exclusive to his genre and defying all expectations fans and friends have of him. The release of his fifth album Stranger following on from last year’s releases of Frost God and Warlord show that Yung Lean is a force and no amount of criticism will challenge his hazy idea of modern hip-hop.
During Stranger, we see Red Bottom Sky echo insights into the paranoia that Leandoer had previously faced regarding his mental health and love life reminiscent of the drug-fuelled breakdown and hospitalisation of Yung Lean when creating Stranger’s predecessor, Warlord. Not only is it great for fans to see that Leandoer is back on form, but it’s particularly striking to see the beautiful work that has been done on producing the record. The album drifts from song to song with glossy dark-synths and an abundance of hooks that could’ve only been devised with skill and talent. Whilst Yung Lean can be denounced as a rapper, it is undeniable that the tracks on this album are bound to aggravate a vibe within the listener whether they wish to experience it or not.
Stranger can’t be identified as everyone’s cup of tea – but the most promising songs are saved for the album’s conclusion. He punches his fans with raw emotions through music over his rapping, specifically with Agony and its ominous instrumental that hooks just about anyone. His plain-spoken vocals over the piano echo nothing more than the silent, creeping horror of gothic literature; he creates suspense and a need to continue listening, as though there is a story to be told. “I adore you, the sound of your skin” is accompanied by the haunting vocals of an Icelandic children’s choir in a breath-taking abundance of muted grief. As if Agony and Lean’s direct reference to Freddy Krueger in Drop it / Scooter didn’t insinuate tales of horror enough, Yellowman is inspired by the 1895 Robert W. Chambers collection of stories called The King in Yellow in accordance to Leandoer himself. The collection regards supernatural stories that focus on a production that causes insanity in those who actually read it. The track is fatalistic, cinematic and nothing less than persistent.
In a genre where vocals are substantial to the music, Yung Lean’s Stranger persents a selection of tracks where the albums décor takes the main stage.
Although, Yung Lean isn’t a standard musician and he will not let the constraints of any genre confine him to making music that isn’t outside the box as we have previously seen, are currently seeing with Stranger and are destined to see again in the future.
Listen to Stranger below!