June 6, 2019 saw the surprise early release of the long-awaited debut album from Riley The Musician Art Is Dead, and the world might as well save this date in their heads for the foreseeable future, as it marks the day that Riley has definitely made his presence known more than any other underground pop artist currently working.
The project was preceded by numerous singles dating back to mid to late-2018, and the project seemingly went through a number of phases before its eventual release this year. Yet, even with the majority of the tracklisting being dominated by past singles, the album still feels like a fresh listen due to its formatting, concept, and general feel throughout its runtime.
This album encapsulates what makes him the most eclectic and fascinating musician in the underground today; it is marked by awe-inspiring production and tellingly beautiful lyrical technique, just as every past single has shown to the world. Tracks like “Thin,” “Junglecat,” and “Goth” perfectly sum up what it means to understand and experience this sentiment. They are defined by bright, upbeat, and gorgeous instrumentation that decisively pairs with the lyrical aspects of each track respectively, those of relationships, feelings, and general adolescence.
While the singles themselves could fill out an entire album and still be impressive, Riley knew that to really put himself in the upper echelon of his audience, he would have to go to the furthest degree to impress and even shock the listener with how much talent he has. Without question, he accomplishes this with one single track that begins the middle of the album: “Supermodel.”
This track throws the listeners for possibly one of the biggest loops they will experience in any album this year, as this track strays far, far away from the glistening and jovial tone of the rest of the album in both sound and style. The song is a grimy, intense, and extremely hard track that sees Riley flat out screaming on the chorus over a blatantly wild bass-filled instrumental. This song would not be out of character on a Bones album let alone something like this, yet Riley still finds a way to kill it and it pays off as the change of pace that this album needed to truly stand out.
Through and through, Riley The Musician has proven more so than ever before that he is ready. He is ready for stardom, he is ready for the spotlight, and most importantly, he is ready to perform at the highest level that he possibly can, and that counts more than anything. Art Is Dead is a musical experience that the public will not see for the rest of this year. The amount of talent being exemplified on a track-by-track basis by someone as young and full of passion as Riley is almost too overwhelming — as if this really should not be happening.
Maybe we should be glad it really is happening because we will certainly never see someone make a record quite like this one in a very long time.