Pop is arguably in a more interesting position than ever before. The genre is darker and more experimental, largely thanks to the democratization of streaming platforms and the rise of ingenious prodigies. One such wunderkind with a haunting vision for pop is none other than Sub Urban.
The 19-year-old New Jersey alternative singer, songwriter, producer, and unrestrained creative releases his debut EP, Thrill Seeker, via Warner Records today, and it is quite unlike anything we have ever heard. This is no mere hyperbole. Combining elements of left-of-center pop with a wondrously macabre vision, Sub Urban is crafting out a niche that is all his own.
Sub Urban's unique sound first struck gold with "Cradles," a track that plays out like a demented yet infectious nursery rhyme, and, shortly after its release, became one of the most popular songs in TikTok history. More than just a passing moment of viral fame, Sub Urban builds up his fantastically ominous world over the seven tracks that make up Thrill Seeker. The New Jersey native spoke further on his debut EP, sharing,
"Thrill Seeker tells a story of adolescent imperfection from the perfectionist. I wrote and produced the collection of songs from the ages of 16 to 18. Every song takes me to a different headspace cultivated by my youth: turmoil and sheer angst contrasted by theatrical self-awareness and worldly dissociation.
Entirely self-produced, each and every track off Thrill Seeker serves as a further illustration of Sub Urban's boundless creativity. The frenetic "Spring Fever" stands out as a heartbreaking picture of teenage confusion told over glitchy, electronic-tinge production. Even in the closing track, "when the flies fell," which at first glance appears to be a heart-rending acoustic number detailing self-harm and dissociation, the instrumentation gives way to blown-out production without warning.
In addition to Thrill Seeker, Sub Urban has gifted us with a visual for "Freak," the opening track from his debut EP. The only track that boasts a featured artist, "Freak" sees Sub Urban joined by REI AMI to deliver a siren-like call to their twisted freak show. On working alongside Sub Urban to create the surreal realm of "Freak," REI AMI shared,
"First off, let me just say, what a fucking character. I absolutely loved working with Sub Urban and am so excited to finally share this song with the world. Sub Urban is one of the very few artists I’ve met with such clear-cut artistic vision. He knows exactly what he wants and doesn’t stop until he achieves it.
I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to feature on 'Freak' and was even more thrilled when he told me he loved what I did to the demo. I remember during one of our sessions, we were so focused on getting the track done that we completely forgot to eat. Sub Urban had some leftover pizza but he couldn’t figure out how to work the damn oven. So obviously, my maternal instincts kicked in and I just told him to go finish the track while I heated the pizza up for him."
Watch the "Freak" video below:
Listen to "Thrill Seeker" below: