|Album Review: 070 Shake - Modus Vivendi|
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New York, NY
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Modus Vivendi, a Latin phrase that refers to the peaceful coexistence of two opposing forces, is a fitting name for G.O.O.D. Music recruit 070 Shake's debut album for multiple reasons. It could refer to her youthful energy amongst mature lyrics or even loyalty to personal voice despite universal success. However the chromatic cyborg rendering of Shake on the album's cover and the rich electronic landscapes across the album reveal the most important context of the title, the unity of the human and the mechanic. This theme has been present in Shake's sonic aesthetic since she was first introduced to the mainstream music world in 2018 on her iconic outro of Kanye West's "Ghost Town." Her feature presented her incredibly vulnerable reprises of "I put my hand on a stove, to see if I still bleed," alongside chaotic noises of ray gun explosion in the instrumental. Nearly two years later, 070 Modus Vivendi further refines the approach of fusing woman and machine. Her brilliant futuristic pop jams continue to blur these much explored artistic lines, often times making her voice the purest instrument we hear.
070 Shake's musical style on her debut album is frequently fleeting and difficult to define. Sometimes we hear synth pop, sometimes, R&B, sometimes electronic. This theme of ambivalence to genre is often jarring and is established early in the first two tracks "Don't Break the Silence" and "Come Around." While the former is a soothing and ambient wave of layered vocal echoes, the latter is a cutting roar of glitchy wails. The transition is abrupt yet refreshing, setting the tone of the album early. The following track "Morrow" cuts up a beautiful Spanish guitar with a booming 808 progression to carry Shake's flashy rap melodies.
The album's middle stretch is by far the strongest and most dynamic as it features the high flying three punch-combo of tracks "Pines," "Guilty Conscience," and "Microdosing." "Pines" is a modern age horror ballad that chugs along with sharp strings and quaking vocal chords, asking daunting questions like "where did you sleep last night?" Previously released single "Guilty Conscience" is arguably the album's highlight as the vibrant synth progression backs an honest tale of heartbreak and regret. Soon following "Microdosing" brings psychedelic layers and shivering lyrics that entail ingesting love encounters in small, palatable amounts. This leg of the album also showcases Shake's profound ability to let her instrumentals marinate and develop organically, whether it be in the colorful guitar bursts of "Divorce," or the mysterious seismic lulls of "Under the Moon."
The album's back end closes the project well as "Daydreamin" brings an abrasive electronic spasm and "Terminal B" is a floating atmosphere that feels like riding a sonic cloud. The final track of the album "Flight319" is an inspiring anthem of spirituality that leaves with a comfortable ignorance to what the future brings. The closing thoughts of spacy ambition effectively tie up the continuing themes of futurism and ambivalence that ring throughout the album while also encouraging us to continue to meditate on them. Modus Vivendi's goodbye simultaneously feels like a return from a long journey and an eager launch to begin a new one.
070 Shake's debut album is an excellent contribution to the evolving and converging electronic and pop landscapes. It highlights fascinating creative poles of the living and artificial spectrums while still managing to feel unique to her own persona. These conflicts, fluctuations, and lapses are where Shake thrives as her voice unites the juxtaposing forces in ways never seen before. More importantly, her comfort and joy in these modern musical contexts is addicting and undeniable. A truly visceral and transcendent project from 070 Shake, Modus Vivendi brings new meaning to the mantra "I feel kinda free."