The fuzz is strong with this one.
PO PO’s Dope Boy Magick sounds as if it’s being transmitted through a cloud. The debut full-length of once brother trio-turned-solo project of lone remaining bro Zeb Malik is a collage of outcast-rock past, with influences culled from goth, punk, and even witch house, but as its grungy bass crunch and oodles of reverb blur the borders between styles, the record becomes a sort of “Variations on Alienation for Drum Machine and Distorted Guitar."
I swear this is a good thing. For one, the murky hiss covering each track makes the jumps between creeping electro and squalling garage seamless, not to mention exciting. Malik is an expert appropriator, casually flipping between riff-heavy acid sludge (“Dnt Wnt U, Jst Wnt It All”), raucous surf (“Bummer Summer”), and pristine electro bliss (the phenomenal “Let’s Get Away”), making the record lively and unpredictable, like a mixtape for the counterculture.
It’s also mesmerizing; the reverb on these tracks distorts Malik’s whine to the point where he’s not communicating in words but in a wash of vowel sounds, and the dejection he’s able to convey with a sigh recalls the perpetual disaffection of Bradford Cox. Like Cox, Malik is able to settle comfortably over a noise record’s various faces, flying over Magick’s more interactive first half and becoming another texture on its subtler but-no-less excellent second. He almost disappears in the hypnotic rhythms of the final four tracks, adding the haunting echoes in “Sik Sik Sik” and becoming a droning hook for “POPONGZU.” This section ends the record on a baffling but tantalizing note. These tracks are some of the album’s most realized, and when “Teen Dreamz” slyly slinks away, it feels like a fitting end to such an elusive record.
I say elusive because Dope Boy Magick keeps its audience at a distance. There’s a tangible apathy here. On “Dnt Wnt U, Jst, Wnt It All,” Malik sings, “I fuckin’ love you,” but he doesn’t sound like he’s going to do anything about it. He’s not interested in action. His record’s bare-bones, catch-all ethos encourages thoughtful, meditative listening, and all that haze he provides seems to lend itself to smoky, dimly lit rooms where everyone’s on too many substances to do anything but gaze blankly and bop along. My advice? “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” You can purchase Dope Boy Magick via Mad Decent. - Adam Downer