EDITOR’S NOTE: For the purposes of clarity (due to lower-case typeface), song titles are in inverted commas.
The creator of the sensational hit ‘i hate u, i love u’, has come a long way since. Using a unique blend of soft rap and striking vocals, alongside an airy aesthetic of flowers and lower-case lettering, gnash continues to grow on his fourth album, we. Gnash has grown in talent as a musician, but his style has remained consistent. we follows the same acoustic and mellow, yet groovy style with a blend of vocals and thoughtfully written rap sections. What stood out primarily for me were gnash’s lyrics. While not relating directly to your situation, gnash’s songwriting ensures that you still understand and empathise with the scenarios featured across we – the lyrics are poised directly in reality.
His opening track ‘happy never after’ signifies the true reality of life, where not everything can be in our favour and we have to learn and grow within daily experience – “I guess the movies I grew up on didn’t teach me enough.” Whilst slightly more upbeat, ‘imagine if’ continues in this lyrical style, dreaming about the possibilities of life in our own hands – if we could tweak everything, turn back time and had “never messed up”.
As I progressed through listening to the album, I realised that the gnash of we seems to be grieving his misfortune; “I’m not okay” stands as the project’s summarising line. But what makes this album stand out is that he is being very vocal about his realities, realities about his love life, his mental health, his earlier days, and life in general. These windows of introspection and brutal honesty are what give the album much of its power.
‘dear insecurity’ branches from the individual to the general, questioning common insecurities that stop us from truly reaching our potential: “When are you ever gonna let me be proud of who I am?” Heartbreak is emoted through ‘the broken hearts club’. Gnash explains the challenges of getting over distant love, and laments that it is best when you have company to help move on. After all, as the old adage goes, “Misery loves company”.
Following ‘the broken hearts club’, ‘feel better’ and ‘be’ manifest as positive steps towards the future, while ‘p.s’ embraces the sweeter side of gnash’s persona – the album ends on a fundamentally positive note. Whilst the album’s similarities can verge on the repetitive side, and the melancholy tone sometimes falls into cliché, one thing cannot be denied – gnash’s songwriting skills remain as fantastic as ever.
Picks:dear insecurity, the broken hearts club