While the title of AikJ’s new EP ‘1992’ might hark back to a time of innocence and youth, in some ways it’s a red herring. On this record, we see him really grow and mature as an artist. There are some moments though which feel like his new sound is not fully formed, but there is enough to suggest that he is moving in a bold new direction.
We got a taste of what was to come on the EP with the release of Break it Off but it doesn’t truly reflect what he is going for on this record. Opener One Last Time is a chilled number but it never quite takes off when it gets to the chorus. Production wise it is a very sophisticated R&B track with a nice hint of electronica.
Vocally AikJ has always been a very traditional R&B singer in that it’s more about the emotion and delivery than trying to push his range. On Last Night he really hits the sweet spot and delivers a subtle but evocative vocal performance. This is complimented beautifully with some snappy percussion and a delicate Hammond organ throughout.
It’s a very modern love song about how the pace of the world can have an effect on relationships. It’s clear with lyrics like“Red lights they trying to stop us, switch lanes they trying to box us.” The chorus really hits home and it acts as a solemn serenade about parting ways.
If Last Flight is a bittersweet ballad, Break it Off is an anthem for new beginnings, filled with jealousy, lust and frustration. It’s certainly his most aggressive song to date; a soaring guitar line brings out the angst behind his words. AikJ yearns for things to change in the verse singing “See I just want the best for you and I know you want the same damn thing too, because’s he’s been in the dark too long.” These last two songs work in tandem and showcase the different perspectives of being inside and outside a relationship.
With only four tracks in total it can be hard to come to a definitive judgment, but there is enough here that shows AikJ is redeveloping his sound and persona. While there are some growing pains both musically and lyrically, he is coming into his own as an artist as he channels his pain and strife to create something truly original.