Alex Crossan a.k.a. Mura Masa came into the electronic scene as a purveyor of Flume-ish, HudMo-ish beats, all sidechain and wonky synths that were so in vogue around the mid-2010s. He then became something of a chameleon, with production credits for artists as diverse as Stormzy and Chic that were all but unrecognisable as his work. Now with the release of his second album, R.Y.C, he rebrands with a style more influenced by punk and debuts his singing voice.
Opening track Raw Youth Collage sets stream-of-consciousness musings on life back then versus life now to an insistent guitar motif, orchestral accompaniment gradually building up before giving way to bass that bounces around the speakers. It’s an effective and thoughtful way to kick off the record, and a sense of disillusionment about the present continues with the snotty lyrics of No Hope Generation (“everybody do the no hope generation / the new hit sensation craze sweeping the nation / gimme a bottle and a gun, and I’ll show you how it’s done”).
In My Mind stands as the record’s centrepiece, a novel fusion of acoustic textures and bass-heavy dubstep balanced by perfect sound design and songwriting. Its hook swoons near the top of Crossan’s range, reverb swirling and added more than a pinch of euphoria to the proceedings, then the grand synth chords come in and seal the deal. I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again with Clairo is another highlight, with a contrast between gentle verses and a drop that blares its bass riff Armand Van Helden style.
Missteps on R.Y.C are rare – Slowthai ruins a good beat with his local lad impression, Today with Tirzah is a bit too sleepy to have much of an impact – and the album sees Crossan as a distinctive producer once again, after the events of the past few years threatened to leave him faceless.