NNAMDÏ - BRAT
Apr 7, 2020 (updated Apr 8, 2020)
95
[EN]/[PT]

There is an almost inexplicable beauty in listening to something without any expectations and being massively surprised. And BRAT is one such case. Nnamdï Ogbonnaya's new album is my first experience with his music, even though this is already his fourth studio album. To tell you the truth, the decisive factor in hearing it was certainly its cover: an adult man, with a princess crown, holding a balloon, surrounded by pastel colors. With such a cover, the immediate reaction is humorous, but BRAT is actually much greater than the comedic tones that Nnamdï brings.

We start its listening with Flowers to My Demons, a sweet and comforting song, accompanied by a melodic guitar, which gets progressively more busy after the introduction of the drums and the incredible ending with orchestral touches. It should be made clear that despite having started on drums, Nnamdï plays guitar, bass and still produces the rest. Flowers to My Demons, therefore, starts the album with a good idea of what BRAT is: in terms of sound it is both calm and chaotic; in lyrical and thematic terms, it introduces the process of self-understanding that permeates BRAT, recognizing its demons, its mistakes and its natural way of being so that it can overcome them. Gimme Gimme shows the other side of the project with a complete change of pace. Much more confident and humorous, Nnamdï unfolds in a very busy heap of electronic elements. Bullseye maintains a playful attitude, with a short passage of beautiful bass and drums. The track seems to be the balanced mix between the first two on the album.

Nnamdï's cathartic process necessarily comes with his approach to his relationships, whether they are about family, love or friendship. In Everyone I Loved the artist reflects on his state of solitude and how it affects these relationships: although he enjoys being alone, he realizes how it alienates certain people or makes them feel that their presence is insignificant to him. And this is a very relevant battle during BRAT. Much more cloudy and atmospheric, the track brings a constant bass and excellent overlapping vocals, which make room for the drums, until it finds a frantic jazzy ending. One of the most uncomfortable and experimental points of the project, but it is exactly these moments that Nnamdï releases the emotion filled in BRAT. But Wasted quickly lowers the tone, softens it to deal with communication problems again.

In Glass Casket, Nnamdï introduces another major guiding point of the project: his artistic career. Despite his degree in electrical engineering, Nnamdï decided to pursue his dream, even though it was unsustainable at the time. He sets this idea with an excellent dreamy production and with sampled vocal echoes. Perfect (In My Mind) is very explicit in its name: "everything was so perfect in my mind", Nnamdï repeats in a clear realization that not everything can always be under his control. With a very chaotic beginning, especially on drums and guitars, the track closes it out to something very post-rock, very inspired by the aesthetics of emo. Semantics is another great moment on the album, again bringing out his relationships: about analyzing where or with whom you spend your energy and if it is giving you any feedback. With a very dark and dense beginning, in one of its most hip hop moments, the track gains speed and ends with a passionate and warm performance in its excellent ending, in which Nnamdï confidently credits his own achievements to his hard work. In a very Flying Lotus moment, Price Went Up puts his career in the spotlight again, in a dark and atmospheric beat, recognizing and preaching for artistic self-worth.

BRAT's final moments take an even more personal turn. Really Don't and It's OK deal a lot with his depressive moments: while the first one is very "I don't want to do anything", the second one has a calm and comforting production that transitions to epic synthetic moments, repeating the mantra of not having to pretend be ok when you're not. Salut closes the album with approaches related to faith, especially how important it is for him to put faith in himself. A peaceful and cathartic conclusion with great guitars and an excellent jazz ending.

The first thing to conclude in BRAT is that the sound experience is millimetrically calculated to enlarge or lower its moments when necessary. When he is more anxious or reflective, Nnamdï opens up his emo influences, especially the guitars of bands like American Football. When he gains confidence, he moves on to his more electronic, hip hop moments. And when he needs to release everything he kept to himself, the frantic jazz rhythms come in unexpectedly to cause strangeness, increase confusion and get the listener's eyes wide open. But if it weren't enough, Nnamdï has a constant concern about how these moments fit into the tracklist: when it seems a little one-dimensional, it quickly changes rhythm, adds another instrument or expands the different vocal flexions that permeate BRAT and make Nnamdï's performances dynamic, humorous and emotional. And in addition to all the musical apparatus, the lyrical composition of BRAT is also especially interesting. Constantly running away from formulas, NNAMDÏ adapts its compositions to the sound and thematic needs it presents.

BRAT is a process of analysis of being, catharsis and change; it is about dealing with expectations, about understanding your value as an artist; it is about understanding yourself so you can understand the interpersonal relationships that surround you; it's about finding a balance between wanting and needing. BRAT has its name because it shows a being in transition: at the same time that it deals with its adult and reflective side, it manages to face it with the cartoonish humor and the dreamy spirit of a child. That's why BRAT is the best album of the year so far and deserves its score.

----------[PT]----------

Existe uma beleza quase inexplicável em ouvir algo sem nenhuma expectativa e se surpreender massivamente. E BRAT é um desses casos. O novo álbum de Nnamdï Ogbonnaya, agora estilizado para NNAMDÏ é a minha primeira experiência com a sua música, apesar de este já ser seu quarto álbum de estúdio. Pra falar a verdade, o fator decisivo para eu ter decidido ouvi-lo foi certamente a sua capa: um homem adulto, com uma coroa de princesa, segurando um balão, rodeado de tons pastéis. Com uma capa dessas, a imediata reação é humorística, mas BRAT ("pirralho", em tradução livre) é realmente muito maior do que os tons cômicos que Nnamdï realmente traz.

A primeira coisa a se concluir em BRAT é que a experiência sonora é milimetricamente calculada para ampliar ou abaixar seus momentos quando necessário. Quando está mais ansioso ou reflexivo, Nnamdï abre suas influências emo, especialmente nas guitarras de bandas como American Football. Quando ganha confiança, parte para seus momentos mais eletrônicos, mais hip hop. E quando precisa liberar tudo que há guardado, os frenéticos ritmos de jazz entram inesperadamente pra causar estranheza, aumentar a confusão e arregalar os olhos. Mas se não fosse o bastante, Nnamdï tem uma preocupação constante em como esses momentos se encaixam na tracklist: quando parece um pouquinho unidimensional, rapidamente troca de ritmo, adiciona outro instrumento ou amplia as diferentes flexões vocais que permeiam BRAT e tornam as performances de Nnamdï dinâmicas, bem humoradas ou emocionais. E além de todo aparato musical, a composição lírica de BRAT é também especialmente interessante. Fugindo constantemente de fórmulas, NNAMDÏ adequa suas composições para as necessidades sonoras e temáticas que apresenta.

BRAT é um processo de análise própria do ser, de catarse e mudança; sobre lidar com as expectativas, sobre entender seu valor como artista; sobre entender a si mesmo para então compreender as relações interpessoais que o rodeiam; sobre achar equilíbrio entre o querer e o precisar. BRAT tem seu nome porque mostra um ser em transição: ao mesmo tempo que lida com o seu lado adulto e reflexivo, consegue encarar isso com o humor caricato e o espírito sonhador de uma criança.

E por isso, BRAT é o melhor álbum do ano até o momento e merece esse 10.

(Tive que cortar a resenha porque não cabia tudo)
2 Comments
Apr 7, 2020
Thanks for recommending this cool album!
Apr 8, 2020
@TRaj you're welcome!
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