Yeek is an artist with a bias towards the element of surprise, venturing to genres as quickly as he leaves them behind before he’s unto the next. In his first album, Love Slacker, bedroom pop dominated the 10 song project while in his previous album, Valencia he leaned into deeply emotional R&B lyricism. For his listeners, this is part of his appeal, an image so subtly enigmatic it’s erratic versatility overshadows its unpredictability, a reputation he’s now known for. Growing up in South Flordia, Yeek arose as part of the opposing current of music that came out of this region, while South Flordia artists like Kodac Black, XXX and Denzel Curry carved out a movement of Soundcloud rap, artists like Yeek did the same in an opposite lane. What resulted was a wave of DIY soundcloud culture, a mix of alternative, melancholic indie records that has been emulated over and over since.
His new album Future Reference holds true to this style of music, but in typical Yeek nature, it's different from anything he’s ever done before and one step ahead of everyone else. Spoken in melodic notes to himself, the album is littered with messages of ominous riddles, in “Before I go” he lets go of the path he thought he had to live and embraces the chaotic excitement of living in the moment. Its not so much philosophical as it is state of the matter, a realization that comes gradually among electronic beats that dissolve into orchestral strings, a sense of peace reached at the end. Even in moments of weightless clarity, there’s a battle between searching to find meaning and leaving the chill moments left up to their own fate. On “ETA3” him and Paris Texas robotically play guitar and sing about a messy relationship like two friends trading bars on a late night recording session, while on “Mood Swings” the artist is deep in his own world questioning the intentions of people he thought he knew. This heavy atmospheric depth is felt throughout the project, between recorded notes to himself about self-possessed reckonings as he does on “At Least You Tried,” are deftly arranged instrumentals that fill the empty space of his whirling thoughts. Diffusing dancehall drums in heartfelt indie tracks, and suppressed murky vocals with string arrangements are Yeek’s way of venturing into an evolution of his own style.
The album's features are a showcase for what makes Future Reference so compelling, and another moment of Yeek’s own musical progress, instead of doing everything himself, collaborations like Bakar and Paris Texas invites a community that add to the synergy of the project. It’s also the first time we hear a song not completely produced by Yeek himself, on “Searching for Yourself,” produced by Erik Bodin, floating vocals from both Yeek and Raveena softens the animated body of production, a dreamy intermission before he ends the project with “Last Night in Town.” The final song is a cinematic goodbye, drawn out by distorted trumpet and piano arrangements, Yeek promises to love no matter what is said or done, in this case the emotions they share defy a lack of physical presence. Future Reference feels like hurdling into a cosmic hole of unknown territory, there’s no pattern or precedence for what you’ll find in each track but there’s also no limits to the sonic renderings he so meticulously conjures.