Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Album Review: Phony Ppl - mō'zā-ik.

Phony Ppl
*** and1/2 out of *****

The Brooklyn based five piece Phony Ppl broke through with 2015's Yesterday's Tomorrow and now hope to capitalize on their success with the phonetically spelled mō'zā-ik. The group mixes R&B, neo soul and pop runs throughout the forty five minute run time of the record with some highs and lows mixed in. 

The players, Elbee Thrie (vocals), Elijah Rawk (lead guitar), Matt "Maffyuu" Byas (drums), Aja Grant (keyboard), and Bari Bass (bass guitar) have been friends for years and the musical conversations that go on can feel warm and welcoming or pushing boundaries at times.

The band oddly opens with it's dullest offering, "Way Too Far", a song that was almost going to BTS, Phony Ppl oddly decided to lead off their engaging album with some dull modern, trap influenced R&B. Things quickly pick up though as "Once You Say Hello" is a cooking pop melange of Caribbean, rock, and dance disco, simultaneously cherry picking from Lionel Richie and moving into the future, the band delivers a winner. "Cookie Crumble" starts simple with piano as a vocal showcase but ends with over a minute of grooving musical experimentation, around bass, piano, keys and more fluttering vocals.   

The best tracks are those when the group experiments as on "somethinG about your love." which skirts around with unique drum patterns and rhythms as keyboard runs and direct blasts enter for the chorus all around a delicate dreamy vocal before a fluid sing-songy guitar solo in the vein of Prince colors things even further. 

"The Colours" finds the band moving into hip-hop with sounds reminiscent of a more artsy Pharcyde while "Move Her Mind" deals with more than just ass shaking on the dance floor. Speaking of dance floors the get down jam "Before You Get A Boyfriend" gets directly to the freakin' successfully mixing smooth grooves and rhymes. On the flip side "One Man Band" and "Think You're Mind" act more as toss off place holders, feeling more like demos than finished products but there is enough other material here to make up for these. 

The band ends in political fashion after singing in and around love for all of the other tracks. "on everythinG iii love." is a stunner which deals directly with police brutality in an Marvin Gaye way, having been feed up by the everyday dealings they have to put up with in Brooklyn. 

The willingness of the band not to be tied to modern trends, speak their mind, explore their own sound and still make things incredibly smooth and enjoyable is a winning combo for Phony Ppl, making mō'zā-ik. a fulfilling journey.
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