AnnonXL | photo by Ritchie King | courtesy of the artist
Philly’s AnnonXL explores self-identity and personal freedom on his latest full-length STUPID CUPID
AnnonXL has dipped his toes into a variety of genres and sounds, but with his latest album STUPID CUPID, it seems as though he’s found a comfortable footing that straddles the worlds of R&B and alternative pop.
Back in November, Annon told the Key that STUPID CUPID is unlike his past work, as it centers his emotions and experiences at the forefront. While STUPID CUPID still remains lively and energetic in Annon’s style, it has an added component of denying superficiality and embarking on a journey to be honest with himself and others through his music.
In a multitude of areas, the project emphasizes a theme of self-expression and coming into one’s identity, like the lead single “BABY’S FIRST TIME,” speaking to sexual freedom in Annon’s queer identity. After previously concealing pronouns in his music, Annon sings “Calling all the boys / We can finally make some noise,” demonstrating his hopes for the project to serve as a sense of comfort and protection for others in the LGBTQ community.
On STUPID CUPID, production has taken a front seat, something that Annon emphasized being a significant component of the project as compared to his past work. He mentioned “ALWAYS EXPECT BIG BEATS” in our last interview, and didn’t fall short on delivering, but the way the big beats unfold on STUPID CUPID is a pleasant surprise. There are a variety of styles across each track, some being more beat-heavy, and others falling into stripped-back and ballad forms, yet maintaining the sense of emphatic rhythm and a depth of sound that comes from Annon’s unique and breathy vocals. Even on tracks that appear to be slowed down, like “SO MOTE BE” and “GOODBYE OLD FREN,” Annon’s vocals create a similarly evoking soundscape to big beats, enhanced by synths, layered vocals, and differing pitches. Big beats unfold throughout the project, whether in a literal manner or created by the energy of Annon’s vocals and honesty.
Annon abandons a classic pop structure throughout the project, focusing on his vocals and lyrics as a free-flowing and captivating essence. With features from artists like CoCo & Clair Clair, an idiosyncratic duo out of Atlanta, and Philly / NYC techno artist Leeyuh Neptune, Annon has reinvented himself with transparency and individuality leading the way, and it is nearly impossible to not pick up on the feeling of release within each track. Check out the full project below, and grab a Bandcamp download here.