FZY – Act 2: Frozen Youth – Album Review
FZY…back up in the heezy for the second time in 2019zy y’all…let’s do this.
It was just back in February this year that we experienced the furthering of this maniacal & mysterious man of words, on FZY’s last record The Bunny And The Cub. As was to be expected from what we’d heard in the past already, the album was a mad success, and definitely a highlight of 2019 so far for the creativity & all-out wordsmith’n you’ll find throughout the set-list. This rapper is a unique one to say the very least…and even though it’s best to expect the unexpected with this particular homie, it’s also safe to say you can expect quality rhymes, diverse ideas, intense internal reflection, and precision flow. FZY don’t make mistakes when it comes to the m-i-c, you feel me? Still…it almost seemed odd to find him back so soon this year with another full album, stockpiled & loaded with fifteen new cuts…is he sacrificing quality for quantity this time around on his new record, Act 2: Frozen Youth? Stay tuned to find out!
Taking over from where the last record left off, hittin’ the alarm clock, and letting the music do the talking as Act 2: Frozen Youth begins with “Legend” – FZY’s nearly right into the Blues here…or in atmospheric terrain you might find in the guitar-world universe of Satriani & Vai ballads…at least at the beginning. “Legend” will morph and change significantly as it heads into the second minute, becoming a powerful combination of piano, drums, and synths that pump a brooding mood through your speakers. FZY’s got two alarms that’ll go off throughout the course of “Legend” – and I got about as much love for that as I do for my own alarm trying to wake me up (Read: None yo) – but I’m willing to let that pass in favor of the overall creativity that takes place throughout this shape-shifting first cut. FZY works in some of that signature bizarreness we know & love him for with the distorted vocals & bending notes towards the end of “Legend” – call it weird, artistic, dark, odd…whatever you want really, I’m sure he won’t mind – the bottom line is that the dude is always cookin’ up somethin’ crazy & highly enticing to the ears.
With the guitar-based intro to “The Box” sparkling & shining, making brilliant use of those bendy notes once again, the melody & mood of Act 2: Frozen Youth immediately brightens up & welcomes you in. If you’ve been paying attention to FZY’s music, you know he’s responsible for each & every single thing you’ll hear – and to hear him reaching out in this more musically-inclined direction for this new album, letting his instrumentation radiate for its own moment in the spotlight…I mean damn…this was a killer move. Around the 2:40 mark, FZY starts to rock the mic, gently in his cadence to suit the song, contrasting the sweetness in the music surrounding him with the heavy thoughts of suicide, drinking, personal failures, depression, & so much more, all the while presenting a stellar melody that has a huge degree of accessibility. A lot of people are going to be surprised by the content in the words they find coming with such a welcoming sound…but that’s FZY for ya…dude puts a massive amount of thought into what he chooses to say & express, and it’s always stood out as one of the key elements of what pulls us in to listen. I give the man serious credit for being as willing to switch it up as much as he does in “The Box” and indeed, throughout this album…vibes like what you’ll find in the first two & a half minutes or-so of this tune are ones I could have fully stayed lost in happily for the full duration of the song. Thankfully, it’s the fact that he DOES continue to push himself further as an artist at all times, that he’s explored “The Box” for everything it had to potentially offer…and as a result, he reveals a huge highlight of the album early on in the lineup that has the kind of versatility & execution that can’t possibly be ignored.
“Advice” is tight AF y’all…what else can be said other than FZY is having one seriously killer year. I love the wandering emotions of the guitar, love the chill of the beat alongside it, love the vocal flow that comes out so smooth & bold overtop…these are strong hooks on display in a real short amount of time. “Advice” rips by at less than two minutes in length, giving you just a moment to catch your breath (and FZY as well) before the rhymes come at ya. A track like this show the insightful way this rapper raps right in the spotlight for all to see & hear…sure there’s a beat…sure there’s some guitar & bass…and sure it all sounds great – but where you get the real movement for the melody & flow, well homies, that all comes right through the words he’s spittin’ out and HOW he does his thang. You can hear the single-worthy hooks he finds in that combination easily on the short ride through “Advice” – but I’d challenge you can hear something else as well if you’re listening real close…FZY’s always been great from day one, his natural talent is off the charts y’all…but it’s quick & tight moments like this with such mad appeal coming through the music, vocals, writing, and execution that show he’s seriously dialed into his vision.
Look. I know FZY is the kind of rapper that will more than willingly take you into the darkest & dankest terrain…but why on earth this guy ain’t a household name by now is beyond me…it’s a freakin’ crime is what it really is y’all. Listening to him up the ante & speed of his flow on “Feathers,” giving it that added edge & crazy manic sound to his voice that we love…it’s all wickedly impressive – but I feel like we really get to hear a lot more from FZY on this cut in terms of clarity…you absorb the weight of these words big time, right up to its final conclusion, which is like an extra punch to the gut at that point. “Feathers” is a seriously impressive track from the vocals to the music…listen to the way the low-end & bass play a role on this cut – it’s essential. Much like I was pointing out on “Advice” – you’ll hear just how much of a pivotal role FZY’s vocals play in steering the direction of sound…I’ve battled a few randos at times over whether or not his methods of madness are as genius as I claim they are, and I stand behind this emcee to this very day, right in his corner as a champion of the innovative spirit he brings to the game. I’d get it if someone was to say that a track like “Feathers” might not be as readily accepted as a song like “The Box” – sure, that’s likely a result of the light versus dark effect…I’d agree if we’re talking universal appeal. But what I’d also tell ya, is that it’s songs like “Feathers” that’ll keep people coming back to the record time & again to discover something incredible about it they didn’t hear the time before – it’s cuts like “Feathers” that supply the super-strong core of Act 2: Frozen Youth through material with real substance.
Like damn FZY…I think you’ve outdone yourself again when it comes to this record – Act 2: Frozen Youth really raises the stakes on production and in the instrumentation for sure. We KNOW you’ve got the lyricism & vocals locked-down – and if anyone out there needs further proof, listen to the way he punches off the dynamics throughout “The Last Supper.” It’ll appear timid at first – but believe me when I say, FZY’s got fireworks in store for ya on this track…as he shifts from his bars in the verses into the explosion of the chorus, “The Last Supper” detonates with pure entertainment. LISTEN to the guitars at the end of this track too will ya? Dude plays that mother with real soul y’all…like I’ve been tellin’ ya from the get-go, the focus here has really shifted to finding an incredible balance between the strengths of his vocals & musicianship…and these results are coming out unbelievably remarkable. I’d even go as far as to say this is the most accessible music I’ve ever heard from this artist…the amount of gateways that exist to get into this album are beyond the fingers I got, I lost count a long, long time ago. I’m a MASSIVE fan of sounds like this…FZY’s hittin’ ya with a light Funk left and all-out Rock right hook in a one-two combo that becomes a real knockout. For those of you that know your SBS history & where I came from…we had a crew called Koncrete Examples here back in the day…damn band only lasted months, but jams like “The Last Supper” were exactly what they were all about. Wickedly designed thought-provoking rhymes, stunning instrumentation, hooks from the music, hooks from the microphone…sounds that were smooth AF and an emcee that could LIGHT IT UP at any moment he chose too…Koncrete sounded just like what FZY has goin’ on through “The Last Supper” – I wanted more of that style ever since, and I’m more than stoked to find it here, done right, by one of the true masters of the musical universe.
Case in-point about the accessibility-factor once again – listen to “Glen Lantz” will ya? Good LORD – I’m all about this song…and in terms of expecting the unexpected from FZY, this is a perfect example of why that is. I wouldn’t have thought in a million years that he’d be singing & swaying his way through a song like “Glen Lantz” – this is a brilliant twist and a completely winning melody. I’ve been saying this for years – FZY is a titan of creativity and one of the most innovative artists you’ll find out there in any corner of the music-scene today…it was true when I started saying it, it’s equally true right here & now. The hybrid idea of “Glen Lantz” and the two lives it leads with its part 1&2-like structure completely works…and both halves contribute to one of Act 2: Frozen Youth’s most extraordinary highlights. The opening is bound to catch just about everyone’s attention…whether it’s for the playful melody, the ill bars, or the upbeat vibe of the whole deal being so unique to FZY’s catalog…it’s definitely a tune that’ll get noticed. And when FZY hits the switch at the sound of the alarm, he blasts this song into an entirely different orbit altogether. What I LOVE about this song (okay, okay, one specific thing, or we’ll be here all day…) is that you could play “Glen Lantz” for just about any hater or listener on the fence out there…not only will they give this track their full time of day, but they probably won’t even believe it’s actually FZY they’re listening to – that’s how different this is. You can’t hide the signature aspect of how he writes & how he flows…I’d like to say I could still pick him out of a lineup blindfolded, just by listening – but to hear just how far he’s flipped the script here…in BOTH of the main-halves of this song…cannot be expressed enough. For myself personally…even with the smorgasbord of incredible music & songs on this record, “Glen Lantz” was such an undeniable highlight in this set; each half of this tune is a world apart from the other – and such an amazing fit together when combined as FZY’s got this laid out. It’s absolutely one of the most epic cuts on Act 2: Frozen Youth, and its true artistic ambition reaching its full potential – that’s what you’ll hear with “Glen Lantz” – there’s almost no OTHER way TO hear it.
Even a track like “Stare Down,” where I’d normally assume the idea pushes into artistic terrain a bit too far for most to grasp, I think FZY keeps this whole record on course by making sure that every track has something memorably redeeming to offer ya. “Stare Down” might not be the people’s number-one choice – but I think what many will admire about this cut is just how far FZY’s expanding creatively once again with the songs on Act 2: Frozen Youth. Facts are facts – “Stare Down” is a highly ambitious tune – and as a result of its meatiness, there’s more for brains to chew on…as opposed to catchy hooks, you feel me? So depending on what you’re looking for, what you’re into & all-that, you may like or love this song, or you might even pass by it at first in comparison to some of the other tracks more quick to jump out at ya. All that being said – I guarantee that “Stare Down” is the kind of cut that grows on ya – FAST. And like, if you’re not convinced by that supremely deadly switch around the three-minute mark, there’s no helping you anyhow. Give the man some real credit for the shimmering Blue Oyster Cult-esque guitars he’s put into this somber-but-surging vibe…FZY gets incredible tones into his guitars, remarkable texture into his music overall, and ideas as involved, complex, and straight-up beefy like “Stare Down” are always worth your time. With the piano, bass, and beat all joining the guitars to create a seriously pensive & intense atmosphere that thickens & surrounds you, or backs off to leave the words even more exposed, FZY goes on to reveal more of the massive depths that make Act 2: Frozen Youth such an experience to listen to…it’s tracks like “Stare Down” that dare to do more from the roots of the concept to the final results of its structure; these are the tunes that keep your brain coming back readily to this new record.
I could literally listen to a song like “01120114” all damn day, every damn day. 100% my kind of jam – and it is right from the drop, putting playful melody on display with high doses of creativity & imaginative sound spread throughout the mix. Like the majority of FZY’s material, you can always expect there’s probably a twist coming at you somewhere along the way…and in the case of “01120114” it’ll get noticeably darker as it plays on, before finding an impressive third-gear that gets the drums & bass much more involved & active. Taking this one mostly instrumental with the exception of a few spoken-word samples, he sounds like a music-box playing as the song begins. “01120114” dials right into its playful vibe at the beginning, before the clouds seem to roll right into your speakers, and heading into its second minute, you’ll feel the menacing sound of what’s to come begin to creep in. And then ACKNOWLEDGE THE GREATNESS PEOPLE, for it hath arrived yet again! What was once good, becomes even greater with the extraordinary & audibly enticing way that FZY takes “01120114” to the end, cranking up the drums & energy to create a highly memorable instrumental finale.
With searing guitar notes soaring through the speakers & bending to FZY’s will, the dude puts on a clinic with “Over Matter” – proving that if it’s accessibility you really want, he’s got plenty of it. Killer use of the drums on this cut, brilliant use of the way this emcee stops, starts, pivots, and shifts with the beat along the way…”Over Matter” is a stunningly stylistic cut that’ll catch your attention for sure. It’s not just about great words here, it’s about just how much technique you can hear this artist apply to his craft as well…from the music to the microphone, “Over Matter” is another remarkable balance of the strengths & skills that FZY brings to his music. And how bout those hooks yo! Bulletproof I tells ya. You glide & slide along with the main star of the show, smooth as smooth can get, passing through hooks from the instrumentation & vocals the entire distance through. I really can’t say enough about just how much FZY’s done with the music on Act 2: Frozen Youth to make this record so bloody outstanding – hopefully you’re all picking that up by this point…it’s completely made the difference, like hearing what it sounds like to lock that final piece into the puzzle. Definitely a cut I think just about everyone out there would find an easy way into…the man’s radiating brilliance once again throughout “Over Matter,” putting up huge hooks that’ll grab your attention for the smart combination of slick sound & movement for sure.
“Stone Soup” is going to be another challenging cut for a few listeners out there…and I can understand that…again, it’s an ambitious track that really reaches on a creative level rather than bring out the easy to love hooks. The pitch-shifting piano tones make a massive impact as far as I’m concerned – and listening to FZY freakin’ all-out shred the guitar as this song plays on into complete digital madness…the bold low-tones of his voice when singing his way towards the end…MAN – what an experience – everything stacks up into a true journey from beginning to end. It might be harder for ya to sing along with – I get that…but dammit, don’t overlook this track – “Stone Soup” flexes innovation at ya big-time. FZY’s a performance-minded entertainer that thinks through every move, every thought, every pivot, every shift in sound – he’s not just ready, he attacks microphones in ways other emcees just can’t and with the courage that most artists will never even find in themselves, full-stop. Songs like “Stone Soup” definitely reach further into the beyond and once again expand his universe of sound even farther – much like songs like “Feathers,” or “Stare Down” earlier-on in the lineup, “Stone Soup” contribute to an incredibly strong cast of supporting cuts that people will appreciate more & more with repeat spins.
And as IF “Leeches” doesn’t have just about ALL the raddest sound in the world as it begins. Fuck it’s BADASS! The guitars are as deadly as they come…the way FZY moves on the mic, shifting between hot bars and smooth melodic grooves in the hooks, he glides effortlessly through this song and proves once again what a multi-threat he is when it comes to what he can do with a microphone. Taking you through an experience with soulful melody, killer bars, remarkable complexity, wild effects & layers – “Leeches” does a powerful job of establishing its uniqueness immediately & continues to give you all kinds of innovative reasons to keep listening from the moment it pulls you in at the very start. We’re talking guitars that would fit right into the grunge-era here…almost like an undiscovered track from Soundgarden that’s been left out in the sun for years as “Leeches” begins. FZY gets weird with it through the layers & textures here – but notice the insane amount of accessibility on the surface as he glides soulfully & slickly from bar to bar! “Leeches” will snack on your brainwaves…from the lefts to the rights, FZY makes big moves in a short space to entertain ya with wild ideas & sound that hits the mark.
Creating an anthem for the Oxycontin crowd, “Silverware” keeps it jazzy, keeps it loose, keeps it hazy. You’ll feel this vibe though…promise ya that…the inviting combination of chilled out sounds from the drums & guitars will bring ya in no matter what to begin with, but the main hooks will too. It don’t matter if you or your grandma don’t fuck with pills – you’ll be singing along with the chorus, that’s just how it is here. “My common sense warns me about the coming times” – that line always stands out to me…I’m sure it’s set within the frame of the internal reflection he’s wandering through & musing on throughout “Silverware” – but I mean, damn if that ain’t a much more grandiose statement of where the world’s at today too if you’re looking at that one line as the statement it could be intended to be as well. Chances are, he’ll turn a few heads with this one, whether it’s through the lyrical content, or the bizarreness of the beginning or verses to follow – BUT…good lord y’all…I’m tellin’ ya, once you hit the bounce of the vibe of the chorus of this cut, it’s all smooth sailing & ready-acceptance from there on. “Silverware” in many ways, is damn near irresistible really…for as simple as shouting out ‘Oxycontin’ may be in the creation of a chorus or lyrics you’ll ever find from FZY…ain’t no doubt it’s got mad hook.
“01130113” – oh FZY…what are we gonna do with you brother-man? Ain’t no box out there that can hold you! Ain’t no genre out there that you’ll stick to, or ones that you won’t try out – there ain’t no way to pigeonhole what you do into some kind of easy article to write where I can put my feet up properly, relax & smoke a blunt whilst I tippity-tap on the typey-machine here. You make us reviewers WORK with how much you switch it up – and I LOVE it homie. Dude goes full-on savage metal for a moment with “01130113” – consider yourselves warned. What set of ears listening out there wouldn’t appreciate this though? Especially you people out there looking for something different – there’s more personality & punch on this short & stuttered, staggering metal monster than you’ll find in most out there – and there’s definitely no doubt about just how much “01130113” ends up standing out from the rest of the set-list on Act 2: Frozen Youth. What’s even more odd perhaps, is just how much you’ll find you readily accept this switch in sound at this point of the experience, even with FZY not having stepped on the metal gear this solidly so far on any other song…he’s got that ability to keep us listening by making sure that each style he tackles, each concept, each song…they’ve all got something you really gotta hear.
“Doubt” is IMMEDIATELY impressive – this is a melody that hits the mark, big-time. What FZY’s working with at the beginning of this cut almost takes him into territory occupied from The Beta Band – that spacey mix of endearing indie melody you really can’t help but feel. The bars he’ll spit in the verse are going to make an impact as well…but if I’m being real, if I’m being entirely honest – the hooks of the chorus are so strong, that might very well be all or everything that the people remember about this track, at least at first. There’s a solid chance that the chorus of “Doubt” has the most memorable hooks you’ll even find on Act 2: Frozen Youth …I could hear an argument for that, and I’d accept that as potential truth – this dude can rap, he can sing, he can play like a mofo…and no matter where we seem to turn, he’s doing all this like it just comes so damn naturally to him. MUST…BE…NICE. Each time I listen to this guy’s music all I can think is just how much I wish so many others would take a page out of FZY’s playbook at commit to their craft like he does, truly. Even as short as tunes like “Doubt” may be, the amount of effort involved to make it all as tight as it becomes, would no doubt be enormous – but the results continually speak for themselves, on this song, and on this record – it’s the level of focus, attention to detail, and bold uniqueness you find in FZY’s music that makes it as cunning as it really is.
The twisted nature of sound & depth of the record’s final song/title-track immediately makes itself known…you can feel the menace creeping in from the guitars & piano pulling you in right away. “Frozen Youth” kicks-in to gear around the ninety-second mark, shifting the energy and strengthening the vibe with impressive guitars & drums leading the way…the piano remains an essential ingredient. FZY gets this cut rumbling with audibly exciting sound pouring from your speakers, flexing technique & inventive ideas at you, before…you guessed it…flipping the script dramatically on ya, plunging into a truly low-key moment in the breakdown around the 3:30 mark. Another forty-five seconds later, and you’ll find some of his best on the mic as he blazes through the bars…listen to how slow the music is, and listen to how freakin FAST this guy makes his moves! The contrast is fuckin’ relentlessly outstanding…and quite honestly, it takes courage as an artist to own the space with as much confidence as you’ll find this emcee does…even when it seems like his brain is gonna explode all over us when he’s pouring his thoughts into the mic at full-speed so frantically, the amount of control FZY has is as pro as pro can get. He’s an inch away from breaking on a personal-level in so many of his songs when you listen to the words – yet it’s performances like what he puts in on “Frozen Youth” that remind you that this guy is made of the purest of steel. Y’ain’t gonna break FZY…and as long as he’s got the music to focus on and be an outlet for all the crazy & intense thoughts in his head…hopefully, he’ll never break himself either.
Find music by FZY at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5BRYHAcjGVPXQQv4raRSIS