Upon first listen Loyle Carner’s debut is confusing, but as you listen more it begins to impress, not only as a thoughtful musical statement, but also as an insight into every aspect of the rapper’s personality. This is in every way a powerful and original album.
Following the unveiling of his EP, A Little Late, the London rapper has risen in popularity with a series of expressive releases. Considering this, it’d be easy to assume Yesterday’s Gone is no more than a collection of singles, with some padding in-between, but this would be overlooking what the album is really about.
Opening with the soulful Isle of Arran, an emotionally honest record that fuses a chorale hook with a rhythm and rhymes that draw you in with every line, Yesterday’s Gone fosters an atmosphere of wistful appreciation for everything Ben Coyle-Larner holds dear. Although the speech interludes are jarring in comparison to the hazy, laid-back brass of Damselfly, they help refocus your attention. Loyle Carner wants you wants you to hang off every word. +44 specifically jumps out as an illustration of the rapper’s skill, and highlight’s how he (with a helping hand from Rebel Kleff’s production) has succeeded in developing a unique sound whilst also experimenting around that style.
Despite heralding from the influence of grime artists when he was younger, Coyle-Larner breaks through the constraints and stereotypes of modern rap and hip hop. Where other artists would boast about cars, money and drugs; Loyle Carner raps about missing his student loan or making pancakes for his sister. This down to earth style makes songs such as Ain’t Nothing Changed universally relatable. You won’t find yourself raving to anything from Yesterday’s Gone but, fundamentally you’ll find yourself connecting to it.
The album follows the style of stripped back, chilled rap. The staccato guitar of Stars and Shards complement the tongue in cheek narrative of the song, whilst Ain’t Nothing Changed draws out long, mellow brass notes to compliment the nostalgic but forward thinking guise of the lyrics. Yesterday’s Gone is a laid-back journey through Loyle Carners life and personality. For the most part Rebel Kleff’s production helps conjugate pulsing rapping with the layered instrumental beat to make the album flow. Unfortunately, No Worries contradicts the character of the album, its strength lies in the verses but this is overshadowed by a hook that uses the term “no worries” in a monotonous drone that builds enough tension to suggest the opposite. Thankfully this track can be attributed to the experimental nature of the album as the rest of the tracks prove time and time again that Loyle Carner’s verses are thoughtful, catchy and eloquent.
Whilst A Little Late focused passionately on the tragic loss of Coyle-Larner’s step-father, Yesterday’s Gone is a reflective ode to all those he’s still surrounded by. This is where his debut becomes outstanding, it radiates the work of someone who uses music solely as a form of expression and in every line, and every rhyme you can hear the effort and the joy that has gone into Yesterday’s Gone.