In Two Feet’s new album Pink, American singer/songwriter Zachary William Dess takes his well-known blend of electronica and soul to new heights, reaching a sound that comes across almost like a movie score. The focus is largely on Dess’ skills as a producer, with the beats driving the mood for the most part.
Name-sake single ‘Pink’ touches upon a sound rooted more in reggae initially, but seems to be very dejected in its lyrics about turning 25, touching upon his last EP, A Twenty Something Fuck. Dess uses the words “falling,” “tripping,” and “crawling” in short succession of each other, followed up later with “older” and “colder.” The sound here is probably where the soul-electro fusion is strongest, in stark contrast with the dreary themes of the tale it tells.
‘BBY’ follows. On the surface, a dark dance track with deep, brooding vocals that again point towards something a little downbeat, but the overall sound of this track is mostly thrilling and engaging. It seems to go on a journey lyrically, asking one moment, “Tell me what you want, what you need from me baby,” only then to say, “I think I gotta let go.” It is as erratic as anyone who feels conflicted in their feelings, only then to make a snap decision.
An alternative narrative is that there are two voices here, one asking the question, the other providing the answer. Either way, the music drives the story wonderfully – a sharp change in rhythm at the point of letting go, as satisfying as the action itself. There is a momentum to reflect each mood, and even in general, the beat is plainly pleasing.
As we get further into Pink, the production of beats remains well polished, but it does, at times, come across as a sort of fail-safe. Dynamic at the start, yet somewhat tiresome, the further we progress. Sound bites serve to entice, but this may be an album to dip in and out of, rather than a full session piece.
The bass kicks in strong with ‘Grey’, pulsing alongside smooth, atmospheric vocals that delve into darker themes still, opening with “Before I fall away.” It is a bittersweet acceptance – “It’s okay, it’s alright, I feel good, I feel fine” – a haunting energy to an otherwise chilled out vibe.
What is striking – beyond the production of rhythm and beats – is the simply sensual tone of Dess’ vocals, especially so in ‘Maria’. Although addressing someone in particular, it works like a siren call to whoever is listening – the smooth and casual tone tenderly alluring. It is then a mere tease that the following track is way too literal in its title – ‘I Felt Like Playing Guitar and Not Singing’ – but at least we get to enjoy the beauty of his guitar work. The only shame is that it all sounds way too familiar, like we’ve heard it in the album before. Still, as a soundbite, it certainly ignites something.
Things take a quite frankly refreshing change of pace with ‘I Can’t Relate’, a mellow, stripped back number, void of that persistent bass rhythm. It is almost frightfully chilling and yet such a delight to hear – a perfectly placed device in the album. This is further implemented with closing track ‘We Will be Alright’ – a delicately delivered message to linger as an appeasing aftertaste.
Overall, Pink is a complex piece. It relies on strength in a production that gives each song a personality, lending it a real flavour of the tracks belonging in a movie. However, it lacks the experimentation that an album of this size would suggest. It is an interesting one to drop into here and there, although a full listen certainly heightens the value of ‘I Can’t Relate’ which, put aside from the rest of the album, could come across as mostly average.
Strong moments applied throughout with true talent, Pink is just in need of a little more variation to maintain momentum.