Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning (Album Review)

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‘Old school beats. Modern themes’

That seems to be the easiest way to distill the appeal of South-London’s confessional rapper wunderkind Loyle Carner. Two years after his critically acclaimed debut ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ (Which incidentally, went on to become King Stammer’s pick for record of the year), He returns with a Sophomore effort will feel familiar to longtime fans.

Taking its name from a Stevie Smith poem that features on the title track, What you’ll find within this record feels like a thematic continuation of the first album, It’s Still chilled enough to double up as an icebox, with Shades of Dilla and Nujabes on the production. What’s interesting though is that you can find Loyle lyrically Exploring new thematic territory with old collaborators. It’s enjoyable to see the progression in his lyricism.


‘You Don’t Know’ sees Rebel Kleff makes an absolute feast of his guest Spot. Kiko Bun’s hook is simple, but his distinct vocals bring just what’s needed.

Jorja Smith’a guest feature on ‘Loose Ends’, alongside Loyle’s bittersweet refrain of ‘I got a lot of love, a lot of loose ends. A lot of people that I wish I knew then’ Will be enough to melt even the most bitter of hearts

On ‘Krispy’ he addresses the breakdown in friendship with pal and long-time collaborator Rebel Clef: “Now two best friends who shared the torch barely talk / And when we do it’s money not remorse”. Candid and poignant, it’s the heartbreaking ode of a friendship ruined by money.

‘Ottolenghi’ will stay firmly stuck in your head for weeks. Tom Misch’s production shines alongside Loyle’s smooth delivery and Jordan Rakei’s hooks, Check out the video too. It’s a throwback to an era when people actually gave a damn about music videos.

‘Not Waving, But Drowning’ is an absolutely spellbinding second album. Although at times the energy of the record sits at an odd curve, it’s undeniably another belting album from one of the most interesting names in UK hip hop.

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