Hazy colors and a muted palette envelops the latest EP from emo-inspired indie artist Julian Drazilov. Entitled Gray, this collection proves much more consistent in tone to his 2020 LP Spices, which shines in its variety. The usual lo-fi charm of his recordings are highlighted by a gritty static sound that lingers through the mix, cutting through the delicate fabric of his hauntingly beautiful chord progressions. Sometimes it has a haunting effect, adding a sort of bitterness to the song, but in choice moments he can just as easily direct its energy to make it feel like a punch in the gut.
Opening single “In Spit” comes in with a slow tempo and a chilling atmosphere, like the feeling of sadness when the world suddenly decides to rain on your parade when you least expect it. The use of harsh textures by the song’s midpoint only further pushes this sensation, with drum fills gaining intensity with every repeat.
Indeed, most tracks in these EP revolve around this air of unease and discomfort. “Pickle Juice” is a rebellious midwest-emo song where a narrator wishes to go on their own way despite always stumbling down and falling. “I’m sober as long as I can stand on my feet”, they insist with stubborn dedication. In “Quicksand” this feeling of discomfort is amplified by the grinding static. Where in previous tracks it blends in the atmosphere, this time it feels relentless and invasive – matching Drazilov’s vocals as he expresses more and more frustration with every verse.
This emotion culminates in “Speak Directly”, where wailing slide-guitars and a dissonant jangly riff invades Drazilov’s psyche. “I wanna crawl back home / I wanna crawl back into my home”, he sings as everyone around him insists on trying to “fix” him. The song is composed of two polar opposite sections – one that is confident and full of groove, the other is urgent and insecure. A combination that has given me goosebumps with every listen and hereby earns the title as highlight of the EP for me.
The EP ends with “Wallflower”, a sort of psychedelic lullaby that’s warm and calming with a heavy undertone. An antidote that ends Gray in a fuzzy light feeling while still carrying the weight of the previous tracks.
Gray is consistently detailed with an emotionally dense atmosphere. Julian Drazilov adds another fantastic release to his belt. An artist we wouldn’t think twice recommending. If you haven’t checked him out yet, make sure to do so via your favorite streaming platforms.