The much-anticipated debut album titled No World, written by futuristic L.A. duo, inc., was released just under a week ago, and it blends well with the slower, toned-down approach to R&B we’ve been hearing recently. It’s rich with melancholic, silky production and ethereal vocals driving the overall aesthetic of the album.
No World has a modern twist on R&B vocalization, warbled guitar melodies reminiscent of shoegaze, and even hints of jazz in the execution of their drums. Underneath all of this is heavy bass interwoven with grime which should come off as overpowering, though I found at times that I was left underwhelmed in between their statement songs.
The opening track, ‘The Place’ instantly caught my attention. I applaud the producers for putting the catchiest single as an opener to hook us listeners in. It sets the precedent for the theme of the album – it being darkly sexy, well-executed melodies layering over one another, and their use of genre-blending. The vocals are quietly crooned to us in a restrained fashion, like he is even unsure if he should be singing.
As we transition in the following track, it reminds me of an early 2000’s alternative band – a loose blend of Pinback, The Shins, a Robin Thicke tenor, and Kevin Shields orchestrating it. What works for me is that despite inc. sounding as though they’re merely taking influences from the past and attempting to rework them into some form of a cohesive sound, it’s a surprisingly modern thinking approach to this methodology. There is a clear focus to the construction of the album with an underlying narrative in play with the instrumentals.
The album begins to lose my attention on the third song since the flow is too seamless, making the songs sound more like a mixtape. This is remedied with their well-placed decision to follow with one of their biggest singles, ‘5 Days.’ The song is clear-sounding again, more on par with R&B and sex. A beautiful, stand-out track for the album.
‘Trust (Hell Below)’ is probably my next favorite song off the album. It’s probably the most upbeat, energy-filled songs of the album, though it still doesn’t inspire more physical movement aside from body rolls.
There’s a brief break with ‘Your Tears,’ serving as the intermission of No World which divides the change in moods from the first half to the second, recapitulating the former. We return to wispy vocals and simplified R&B, which is now becoming repetitive and underwhelming. The surprises the duo had made previously are stagnated in the second half.
‘Nariah’s Song’ is the most straight-foward, melodic track off the entire album, and the most beautifully composed. It sits at just under two minutes and focuses solely on pianos and waves and closes the album out on a gorgeous note. While this may be my favorite track off the album, it sounds more like a bonus than one which would make most sense to feature at the end. It’s slightly jarring in how it deviates from the overall mood.
The best takeaways from the album are between ‘The Place,’ ‘5 Days,’ ‘Trust (Hell Below),’ ‘Nariah’s Song,’ and ‘Desert Rose (War Prayer).’ While the rest of the album left me somewhat disappointed and at times bored, I do appreciate the direction inc. took with No World. It’s dreamy, contemporary, and pretty damn fantastic for the bedroom. Also impressive? They’ve opened and performed with Sky Ferreira, Zomby, and had a set at the Boiler Room.