“You didn’t get the pre-link to the album?,” a chatty producer asks me incredulously after I remark about the incredible production of a track off of the new Kid Bloom album. I felt a bit embarrassed, and began to search my mind for excuses. I hadn’t listened to the pre-link, I had just gotten home from vacation and was so exhausted I had barely peeled myself out of bed in time for Kid Bloom’s album release party. Now, standing in the studio, mixed drink in hand, it was like all the sun-sapped energy I had lost was back with a force. The producer continued, “that’s great actually, that means you’ll get to listen to it for the first time in the studio, the sound quality is unreal in here.” A wave of relief washed over me, and I decided that it was true: the best way to hear it for the first time was in the soundproofed walls and oversized speakers of the Metronome Studios in Santa Monica, where the bass reverberated and passed through me and the surround sound enveloped my ears.
Kid Bloom stands at the center of the studio, with managers, publishers and friends encircling him, holding joints and champagne glasses. There is an overwhelming feeling of joy in the room. It’s apparent that every person who’s ever been lucky enough to work with Lennon (who goes by Kid Bloom) wishes him well, and is celebrating with him. After the album listening is over, the retro-rocker makes a speech listing off and thanking every single person who has been a part of the album, and finishes it by kissing his manager on the forehead and exclaiming, “let’s go get drunk!”. In my brief interaction with the artist he manages to thank me several times for being there and takes a photo with me as if I were a close friend, cheek to cheek. The entirety of the attendees are clearly charmed by the artist, telling him “you’re up next” and beaming at each other. Even the elusive Maria of The Marias is here to see the album launch, and yes, she’s just as beautiful in real life.
The studio interns and producers are also exceptionally friendly. At a typical Los Angeles music event, it was me who initiated strained contact with other attendees and attempted to establish a common ground. Here, the producers and interns are giddy with excitement, singing the praises of the studio and Kid Bloom. Eager engineers man the 70s campervan-turned-bar and offer liquor and pizza to the crowd. A framed achievement plaque of a Logic record hangs in the hallway addressed to Wallis Lane (a duo of two producers and the resident producers and founders of Metronome Studios). Niz (or Farro, as the interns called him) follows the Wallis Lane account from my phone himself as I was leaving for the night. Just a glance at the page shows collaborations with Jack Harlow, Chloe X Halle, DaBaby and a new partnership with SalXO, manager and longtime friend of The Weeknd and now Doja Cat. I’d never been in a room with such friendly superstars. I’m even lucky enough to strike up a conversation with publisher and manager Jerry Edouard, who eagerly shows me a photo of Pharrell holding his son and tells me about how the singer-producer came to give his son the name “Nature.” The frenetic, buzzing environment we are in is a product of the charismatic Kid Bloom and his collaborators, who no doubt has the entire crowd under their spell.
Furthermore, Kid Bloom is more than just a killer album writer and producer. I had seen him live at The Fonda a few months back, and I couldn’t help but draw conclusions between the electric emerging artist and Harry Styles. Both are often laden in snug-fitting vintage, and between the flare pants and feather boas it’s clear there’s a new dress code for men and it’s focused on the female gaze. The trend seems to be following the rock revival of the 80s and has been widely received by female audiences. And when female audiences are listening, the men will follow. The soft, feathery vocals of Kid Bloom and Harry tenderly dance across the tracks and create that uplifting, feel-good moment that keeps the listener hooked until the last track. Both albums feel like dopamine and escapism, for easy Sunday listening that’s so masterfully crafted that it feels effortless. The hysteria from Harry Styles is carving a path for male artists that are able to tap into their feminine sides and do something sort of revolutionary – which is write music with the female listener in mind. Just like Harry’s House and Mac Miller's The Divine Feminine, Kid Bloom’s Highway is a unilateral materialization of stylish men making stylish, timely music that will be remembered for decades to come.
Now that I’ve aired my long-winded praises, let’s get into the music. Although the entirety of Highway is a continuous, consistent bulk of incredible music, here are my favorites:
The obvious choice for the vote of sexiest track on the album. It’s got a building intensity and clever, short lyrics:
“My hair is reaching for my shoulders /
My body's running out of steam /
When desperation pulls me closer /
And my eyes glow green”
The song is about freedom and breaking ties with a lover. An electric guitar and a cascading piano can be heard in the background of the pop production. The melodic hook is endlessly catchy and one of my favorites.
“Have U Seen Her” was released as a single before the June 3rd drop, but still deserves a mention here. This song seems to capture the feeling of youth that falling in love gives to a new couple. Reckless abandon, yearning, impulse and lust play into the lyrics over a quick beat and, of course, more electric guitars.
“Let's do something I'll regret /
One thing's sure I'll never forget I need her /
Have you seen her? /
Have you seen her?”
A deep cut, “Drew Blood On Your Rose” is a showcase of Kid Bloom’s production and taste making skills. Markedly harsher than the other songs, discordant and scratchy keys contrast with Kid Bloom’s soft falsettos. The lyrics are written as a metaphor for a rose bush:
“All this pain and nothing grows (All this pain and nothing grows) /
Yeah I drew blood on your rose”
Another song that was previously released as a single, this one’s an unmistakable Kid Bloom classic. Still the most commercial of the bunch, “I Fell In Love Again” has a few melodic, catchy one-liners that have me repeating the refrains under my breath as I cook dinner.
A song that feverishly references a Tame Impala track, and even has a similar theme as “The Less I Know The Better”:
“And now I crumble at/
Just the thought of you and me apart/
Giving yourself to him”
Follow Kid Bloom for more dates for the artist’s headlining tour coming this year.