The musical world of Mr Eff is one that evolves and extends further subtly from release to release. Mr Eff moves each album to a new level; from his debut The Parallel and its Giallo-leaning melodies, brooding melancholy, and sweaty Moroder-like arpeggios to the grimy street funk, seedy breakbeats and subway terror of Eyes Down.
In early 2020 the man known as “Eff” was well into album number three when a worldwide pandemic shut everything down. Isolated at home Mr Eff took a good, hard look at the work he’d done and then looked out the window at a world in crisis. His re-evaluation of the album and where it was truly stemming from resulted in a different direction with his next long player.
Enter Nostalgia Confessions.
Nostalgia Confessions is a 5-song EP. It’s a trip into contemplation and soul-searching. We still have those subtle beats and street vibes, but this is more of a sunset stroll down Avenue D. The danger here isn’t outward, but not coming to terms with what’s around us and not doing anything about it.
You can feel the sea change immediately on album opener “Try To Forget”. The cold sweat perspiration of Eyes Down has mellowed into a feeling of calm reflection, as evident in the 80s pop vibe here. Vocal samples and percussive touches give the song the feel of an 80s R&B slow jam, but with Mr Eff’s exquisite hazy production. “Natural” is all brooding electronics and existential crisis mode. The percussion pushes this song into a more naturalistic zone, while the voice sample adds a ghostly angle here; memories visiting from a dark, hollow place reminding us of what was, or what could never have been.
I heard some cuts from what became Nostalgia Confessions a little over a year ago and “Uncanny Valley” was one of those tracks that just stuck in my head. It is the brightest spot sonically in the Mr Eff world, full of bright synths, ear-catching melodies, and a sense of a new day dawning. It’s one of those “ah-ha” moments that you come across with an artist where you feel they ascended to a whole new level of writing and arranging. “Uncanny Valley” is a truly next level track.
“Confess” is hypnotic and an all-out dance floor banger, capturing some of that street level magic from Eyes Down. It also works in some of those hot Miami asphalt vibes of Mr Eff’s youth. “(We’re All Just) Dying Batteries” locks into the groove of 80s malls and Saturday nights cruising on the main drag looking for anything but boredom. Still, under the electro groove and seedy synth riff there’s still a touch of something darker. The feeling that none of this really matters; that we’re just waiting for the alkaline to run out of us and our lights to fade.
Nostalgia Confessions is a huge foot forward for Mr Eff. I’m sad that there’s not more. A full LP of these vibes is the kind of head space I can get lost in. Regardless, this is a primo sampler of an artist opening his head and heart to the world; sharing his existential crisis for all to hear. Someone looking at the past, worried about the future, while still trying to appreciate the present.
‘Nostalgia Confessions’ is available now via Burning Witches Records. Buy it here.
8.2 out of 10