Thursday, July 11th, 2019

serpentwithfeet ft. Ty Dolla $ign – Receipts

If you had this on your Featured Artist Bingo card, please step right up and predict all of our futures…


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Ramzi Awn: 2019 is bringing some good things when it comes to ambient soul. “Receipts” makes use of a subtle dancing bass, perfect pizzicato and imperfect vocal runs to devastating effect. The question at hand is prescient, and the harmonies, though from another time, are right at home. serpentwithfeet’s dark creativity is not to be taken for granted.
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Jonathan Bradley: serpentwithfeet works in strangeness: the disjuncture that forms between the emotions you have and the world in which they have to live. His earthbound, crawling chorals are an expression of this, particularly when they try to spool themselves around Ty Dolla $ign’s bell-clear R&B, but the resulting tension is merely formal. A valiantly realized exercise, then — though I suspect one that wasn’t supposed to be this cold or this sterile.
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Alfred Soto: See, I know there’s a song beneath the anguished murmuring. 
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Tim de Reuse: The superhuman vocal discipline that characterizes serpentwithfeet’s body of work is used here in service of tonal chaos. There’s a gorgeous melody in there, but it’s woven between some truly perilous chord changes, and it takes several listens to start to hear how each moment leads logically to the next. It was smart to keep “Receipts” so bare and repeat the chorus so often, since clutter and bombast would have made it totally unapproachable, but it still feels a little lean — especially since Ty’s guest verse is so inconsequential.
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Scott Mildenhall: The ambition is admirable, but it comes off awkward. In headphones, the vocals creep up, often too close, and what could be focus-grabbing if the use of space was dialled back somewhat instead distracts from the experience. Rather than “what’s going on here?” it almost becomes “why is this happening?”.
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Katherine St Asaph: For something that emphatically should not work — the artist of “Cherubim” featuring the artist of “Or Nah” — “Receipts” works pretty well: an exhibition of harmonies, a meditative verse, with Ty Dolla $ign there for some reason but not not making sense.
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Nortey Dowuona: As serpentwithfeet gently, carefully rises in a grateful sweep of his wings, Ty surprises him by helping to waft warm air underneath him.
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Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I like both vocalists a lot on their own (or, in Ty’s case, in collaboration with others), but “Receipts” works to each of their weaknesses. serpentwithfeet’s ambient and esoteric tendencies make him seem like wallpaper next to his partner’s bolder tones. Yet Ty Dolla $ign also falters — his vocal style relies so much on rhythmic interplay, of adlibs and vocal runs intersecting with the beat, that a piece as formless as this squanders his talent. It’s still beautiful, but at their best, both singers can do so much more.
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