(Secretly Canadian)


Josiah Wise, aka Serpentwithfeet, is no stranger to making a statement. A torchbearer for showcasing and celebrating gay Black love, here he builds on the tender, loving representation of 2021’s Deacon adding in moments to inject a physicality alongside the romantic vulnerability.

You feel it on ‘Damn Gloves’, the album’s tenacious, pheromone-filled opening track (“I just wanna keep grind, grindin’ on my nigga / Whatever’s on his leg, good god / It’s getting thicker”) and see it in the directness of its accompanying music video celebrating the spirit and intimacy of Black queer nightlife. Built on a foundation of crisp, sensual R&B, the rest of GRIP might not strike with the same overt carnal power but tracks such as ‘Black Air Force’, ‘Hummin’ and ‘Safe Word’ still find a supernatural blend of complexity, romanticism and evocation that ensure everything holds up.

‘Ellipsis’ is the highlight with Orion Sun’s star vocal turn adding a gentle caress. “When words fail / Ellipsis / Baby, come kiss me,” she invites before Wise’s own equally sublime vocals help to close out a track that’s not only the album’s standout, but likely one of the best slow jams you’ll hear all year.