NPR MUSIC: THE 50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2017 - VINCE STAPLES, BIG FISH THEORY

 

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THE 50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2017

 

 

17. Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory

 

Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory

 

The headline on Big Fish Theory when it arrived in late June was that Vince Staples was chasing a new sound. For fans of Staples' debut, Summertime '06 — which positively hissed with atmosphere — or his more tightly-wound Prima Donna EP, his second full-length was full of surprises, but not just because it was built on electronics that swerve from warmly rounded dancefloor-ready beats to claustrophobia-inducing static. The most reliable thing about Staples' first few releases was that he came across as unwilling to ever hold his tongue, so it's just as jarring that he repeatedly retreats over the first half of Big Fish Theory, giving half a track over to a sample from an archival interview with Amy Winehouse and sharing chunks of "Big Fish" and "Love Can Be" with collaborators who sometimes sound like samples. This on an album that also includes songs with enough industrial oomph to soundtrack a Marvel trailer. What's he pulling away from? A colleague hypothesized that Big Fish Theory's main theme is love (a theory Staples called "fair"), and if that's true, it's almost certainly also about distance — geographical and emotional. Maybe this is just the work of an artist who knows he'll be misunderstood holding his audience — and maybe everybody else — at arm's length so he can have enough space to create. —Jacob Ganz

 

Listen to Big Fish Theory

 

Via NPR

 

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