In Greek mythology, Narcissus is a cautionary tale of self-obsession and solipsism: a young man is cursed to fall in love with his own reflection, before ultimately meeting his demise. A modern take on self-exploration, Jack Rua’s Narcissus is a debut mini-album that’s been four years in the making.
The title track opens with “why don’t you love me?”, entering an eerie digital soundscape built with glitchy clicks and prickly synth. The flagrant disregard for genre boundaries displayed by the album’s singles(Scarlet A, Ego, Rise, Curious, Reflection…) is a credit to Rua’s motley crew of collaborators- PureGrand, LOGUOS, Porridge, Rouleaux, Mattu, and Darce, and it lends credence to the current craze of co-creation.
Rua’s knack for a strong narrative shines through across all eight songs – what he has to say is hardly one dimensional, but the lyrical ideas of sexuality, turmoil, lust, and love are easy to digest. There’s no fluff or filler: the less-is-more track list flows together cohesively with more-is-more production sensibilities.
The spirit of Gaga, Bowie and Charli XCX is omnipresent (all three sit solidly at the intersect of this queer/pop venn diagram), however the future pop envelope is ripped right open over the clunky beats that he chooses to carry his message forward, making it all about texture, texture, texture. Jack Rua’s the name, maximalism is the game.
Everything ties together at the album’s most tender moment. Piano-led final single Reflection is a softer production – leaving the listener with human elements of vulnerability and depth. “I don’t wanna talk it out, I just wanna make it loud”, he laments.
With all the flaws Rua sees in the mirror of Narcissus, the remedy is the same – to dance it all away. Bi flag and scarlet letter at the ready, this coming-of-age debut effort dropped just in time for pride szn.