Reviews

JPEGMAFIA
EP2!

(EQT / Polydor)

8/10

You’d be forgiven for assuming JPEGMAFIA’s EP2! would be in a similar vein to 2020’s EP1!, yet as should maybe be expected of Peggy at this point, he rewrites his own rule book to produce something totally unique from the rest of his growing discography. The product of three weeks locked “in a room with a few synthesisers”, as he explains on Twitter, this is his most introspective and melodic project so far. 

Peggy’s predominantly whispered vocals channel a sound loosely recognisable in a lot of the hooks on 2019’s All My Heroes Are Cornballs, while conveying raw emotion to a degree that we’ve not heard from him before. With this melancholy-steeped approach atop ambient chirping synths and surprisingly live-sounding drum programmes, he expresses thoughts that are grounded more in disappointment than anger or sadness. 

Appropriation of Black culture and aesthetics acts as a thematic touchpoint across the seven tracks. On ‘FIX URSELF!’, he laments “I’m really Black, I hear y’all just performing”, and in exploring a similar frustration he addresses white privilege on ‘THIS ONES FOR US!’: “Black, beautiful and damn I’m gifted / You being white’s what got you that position / You’re not the shit, you’re no good at business / You’re vague with your threats, I’m direct with my pistol”. As is standard throughout his work, there is a twist of humour infused into nearly every sentiment, regardless of subject’s weight.

‘PANIC ROOM!’ is the most sonically expansive cut on the project, partially due to James Blake’s co-production. The assortment of electronics shifting in and out of the mix complement the sound established in the songs before it. Reflecting the mood of these prior tracks, it builds into a portrait of tension and frustration as cultivated largely through lyrics and themes before this point in the release. 

EP2! stands strong within an already-glistening catalogue. It appeals to a different, more subdued side of JPEGMAFIA, but knowing the rate at which he reinvents his sound, it’s likely a fleeting foray down this avenue – and a successful one at that. It would take a brave person to predict what Peggy will do next. 

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