Photo: Lloyd Pursall
As music becomes an increasingly collaborative and globalized affair, the idea of bending and defying genres comes up more frequently than ever. With that in mind, alternative rap duo THEY. have proven themselves to be masters when it comes to defying typical genre conventions to create music that sets them leagues ahead from the pack. It was this inventive mentality that brought THEY. to prominence with their remarkable debut album, Nü Religion: HYENA, and an approach that is fully realized in its follow-up EP, Fireside.
The five-song collection sees THEY. weaving in and out of varying genres and emotional highs and lows with a graceful ease. Fireside owes its wealth of diversity not only to THEY.'s infatuation with rap, indie rock, and grunge but its host of features. Each track of Fireside bares a different featured guest that allow Dante Jones and Drew Love of THEY. to explore everything from down-trodden R&B to celebratory hip-hop. And while one may think to go from the Jessie Reyez-assisted "Broken" to the Jeremih-featured "Wilt Chamberlin" would result in a bout of sonic whiplash, Fireside retains a sense of cohesion from start to finish.
Perhaps the most divisive aspect of Fireside arises from the moment one is tasked to select a standout track. Is it the Wiz Khalifa-featured "What I Know Now" that perfectly sets the moody atmosphere of what's to follow? Or is it found in the reflective soul-searching collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign, "18 Months?" Maybe it's the hard-hitting "Tell Me," which sees Vic Mensa delivering one of the EP's most striking verses, or when Gallant lends his vocal stylings to close out an EP that will stand as one of the best showings of the year?
Whatever it may be, you can be certain that you'll find something truly outstanding here. So, pull up a seat Fireside as THEY. breaks new musical ground.