Khalid - Free Spirit

4/10

Favorite Track: "Talk" Least Favorite Track: "Intro"


Free Spirit is the second studio album by Khalid, released on April 5, 2019, through RCA Records. This R&B superstar was only nineteen years old when he released what some consider the best R&B/Pop album of 2017 ; American Teen. This albums fun vibes, loose production, and lighthearted themes are why myself and so many others enjoy it so much to this day. Fast forward to this year and Khalid is now 21 and has released Free Spirit. This man’s style is generally very easy to get into and vibe with and that doesn’t change on Free Spirit. However, the title turns out to be an oxymoron because this album feels anything but free. His last album felt free with it’s energetic, nostalgic, and childish, songs about growing up, and dreaming while doing so. In comparison Free Spirit feels fake. The way the project is written feels like it is trying to accomplish what Ameircan teen did so well but it repeatedly falls flat on its face. The free and spontaneous energy that radiated off of Khalid's 2017 project felt natural and like it was meant to be there. Free Spirit feels like the Ikea version of that. Like it is attempting to do the same thing but it will never live up to its precedenter. Outside of this, the project is simply boring. The lyrics, vocals, and song structures all fall incredibly short of anything but underwhelming on Free Spirit. I truly believe that the vocals and lyrics are the true problem with this project. Khalid serves as his own worst enemy. The production is usually fine and sometimes rather interesting with some of the sort of fun cuts on the record featuring some interesting instrumentals, synths, bongos, and keys. Most of the production sounds like something that could have been plastered on American Teen and no one would have batted an eye. Unfortunately the vocal deliver thrown on top of these decently produced songs is generally so boring that I don't really end up caring about the production all too much. Boring melodies, boring delivery and lyrics that have way less punch or substance than anything off of American Teen haunt this whole project. I understand that he attempted more of a darker album and I have no problem with that but, as he matures his music does the same and it seems like that maturity is at the expense of substance which this album lacks completely. “Bad Luck” sets the precedent for boredom on this album at track #2. The high registered vocal melodies on the chorus are really forgettable and don’t really add anything to the track which is very structurally boring and very bland. “My Bad” is an extremely forgettable moment as well. The guitar chords in the back of the mix get stale much too quickly and they just add to the songs overall lack of character. The same principle stands for literally every other song on this album besides the single ; “Talk”. Along with it having some of the most interesting production on the album it has the best hook by far. The rest of the track is padded out with some subtle synths and keys. It’s the only thing seamless about Free Spirit. Overall this ends up being a gigantic sophomore slump for Khalid. I think his voice, style, and lyrics worked much better when he sung about upbeat, nostalgic childhood dreams, and coming of age anthems then sad, underwhelming, breakup ballads with little to no real emotion that come out extremely forgetful.

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