The world of LA beatsmith Matthewdavid (real name Matthew McQueen) is an undeniably sexy one. In fact, that’s the first impression one will get when spinning his second album In My World – a cluster of deep house grooves, chopped and screwed R&B vocals, and sub-bass that would be played at a futuristic Stonewall Inn. Whereas McQueen’s 2011 debut Outmind obscured his hip-hop roots under an ambient sheen, here those influences are amped up into a half-hour long wild and ridiculous adventure.
No one can mistake McQueen as a man who has any shame. The title track opens in a “In my world / you gotta put up a fight / we can pass the night away baby” before doing a California white boy’s interpretation of Sean Paul’s spitfire on 2006’s Temperature. It just gets better: “Baby I can show you just how real it gets / and maybe we can go to / this place / outer space is where I want to know you.” Wow. Nobody would have called Outmind an entirely serious release three years ago, but here McQueen is at a whole ‘nother level.
Immediate follow-up Cosmic Caller begins with “I know what it’s like to be alone baby / but don’t worry / just give me a call / I’m right here.” It’s the kind of lyrical absurdity that makes you stop for a minute in the club with a “Wait, what?” face before sharing an eye-roll with your dance partner and continue grooving anyway. House Of Horus and closing track Birds In Flight play up a New Age/pop-soul hybrid, with the latter’s lead vocals have a Horace Andy pseudo-trip-hop play. For most other artists, this precocious silliness would be the kiss of death, but McQueen pulls it off so incredibly well that it’s hard not to smile – or dance along.
McQueen, as ridiculous as he is, isn’t dead to the irony of his music. A common pratfall in the sardonically-termed PBR&B and vaporwave genres is the tendency to ignore decent music-making for the haha-factor, which makes many of these artists and albums nothing more than one-night stands where the beard gets scragglier and the chest more pasty-white with each remembrance. If there’s anything that McQueen’s numerous EPs, remixes and collaborations have demonstrated, it’s that his first love is the music, and the production aptly validates this conviction. The acoustic passage of Artforms has the same gorgeous melodic base that made Tycho’s Dive such an entrancing listen. West Coast Jungle Juke has some of the twisted DnB that Squarepusher experimented with on Music Is Rotted One Note.
Unfortunately, Next To You Always veers a little too far into the score of Macintosh Plus derivatives that saturated the Internet over the past five years. McQueen pushes the sex appeal too far and the slowed-down R&B background vocals fail to impress this time. Contrast this with the immensely more rewarding The Mood Is Right, which makes for some fantastic baby-making music if the title didn’t already make that clear. Birds In Flight is one of the greatest tracks on the album and easily a highlight of Brainfeeder’s roster. Singing Flats has the polyrhythmic base of label boss Flying Lotus, but at considerably lower bpm, which gives those rhythms room to breathe on their own.
It’s stupid fun, but In My World is also a surprisingly intelligent release with quite a few surprises. Fans of Air’s Moon Safari and recent Ninja Tune releases (such as Illum Sphere’s debut from earlier this year) will find something to love just as much as In My World loves on their brainwaves. It certainly has a few missteps that all but the very best are guilty of doing, but otherwise, In My World is a continuation of an already promising career as McQueen continues to “find the light inside”.