Falling For Khalid’s New Romantic Inspired Ballads Is Even Easier On 2nd Album ‘Sun City’

Written by taylor
/ 5 mins read

It was a challenge for me to dig most of Khalid’s previous effort, American Teen, and while I recognized that the young singer was doing a something a little different and cool with his voice, over some fresh New Romantic era material, the plethora of songs on his debut album didn’t really hold my attention because they sounded redundant too my ears. Reading up on the superstar, I discovered that he had a super strong following in his adopted El Paso, with basically the whole school of Americas High behind him, therefore it was determined at the time to slap together his surplus of music to capitalize on the buzz caused by hot national singles like “Location.” This, I suspect, is the reason why I felt some tracks were decent while others were lukewarm – because of this need to rush and get him out there. The culture and critics were fine with it though, and he garnered a bunch of Grammy noms as a result. I remained unmoved – then I gave Suncity a listen and it changed my mind completely.

The Attention To Detail Is Meticulous On This Neo New Wave Classic

Having always been a big fan of poetic, melancholic, dream-pop from English bands like Cocteau Twins and The Blue Nile, I naturally also had a soft spot for the more commercially successful New Romantic sounds of Eurythmics and The Style Council. The good old days of music aren’t the only place to look for New Wave, as a Neo New Wave exists today, where I can fall into the same groove with millennial electro R&B acts such as Khalid, who shares lots in common with the synthetic balladry of the aforementioned Brits, yet he is also a product of contemporaries and modern day inspirations such as Kid Cudi, The Weeknd, and Majid Jordan. I didn’t like the playground cuteness of “Location’s” ceaseless lullaby, but this sort of naivety is non-existent on Suncity’s superior melodies and arrangements.

Floating Where The Rivers Of Synth And Cinema Mix: It’s Synthematic

Paul Weller of The Style Council relaxes to his electric groove in “Long Hot Summer”, a patience which Khalid delivers on the drippy, wet wave of his song “Motion.” It sounds like the way rain feels, the way love at first sight is soul-stirring, the way driving at night with no destination is meditative. Khalid chooses the right words, even when they are obvious, or just some descriptor of a vibe, because all lyrics delivered are voiced in a warm, trustworthy tone. It’s no wonder Khalid is a teen idol – he deftly narrates the once in a lifetime dimension where these feelings are at their zenith. Likewise, he reminds grown ups what it felt like to see the whole world reduced to these moments; “floating through different dimensions, the ladders and stairs haven't changed / honey, I forgot to mention, I'm so entranced by you, it hurts.” He doesn’t need to rhyme to get the beautiful points across.

A Shame That The Album’s Duration Is So Short, But Perhaps That Is Also Its Appeal?

I liked the 7 tracks on Suncity way too much for them to be over so quickly. The two interludes have an awesome appeal, but these are not songs, and I could have gone for two more official songs to complete the album experience. Though, perhaps I am hearing the best of the current crop of songs Khalid had to offer, and this might have been key to my positive experience, where previous album American Teen was a slog at 15 tracks. My take away is that Khalid deserves all the accolades he has garnered – which is a shift of my position, and I am finding, anew, that vocally he is a lot like a young black male Annie Lennox, which I hadn’t really noticed before, and furthermore, a young male version of singer songwriter Tracy Chapman – especially whilst singing over the more Alt-Rock instrumentation of “Saturday Night.” The chords here are reminiscent of Chapman’s “Fast Car”, and Khalid’s delivery is brisk in similar way to hers, as he narrates a tale of the woman he cares for; “saturday nights / light gray Silverado / drive it 'cause you have to / stay up working late at a job you hate / and fix your makeup in a dirty bathroom” – not dissimilar from Chapman’s painting of her and her lover’s ‘getaway’ plans.

2. Track List (7)

3. Official (7)

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5. Featuring Remixes (1)

7. Similar Albums

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9. Album Info


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