Selfie takes on a relatively new sound for Sam Bekt. His 2018 EP New Year New Trax operated in a traditional indie rock sphere. The three-track project was quiet, simple, and moody. There are aspects that connect the two projects, but largely, Selfie is a complete forgoing of the EP which preceded it. The album opens with “Seasonal”, a self deprecating pseudo-rap track. To begin a debut album with the phrase “I’m not even an artist” is an admittedly bold move, but as the song’s two bar loop structure continues for another three minutes, it begins to read as an unsure disclaimer. This uncertainty persists throughout the album sonically and bumps heads with an equally present lyrical machismo.
Throughout the project, Sam Bekt channels something like an R&B freestyle feel. Lo-fi drum loops and 7th chord guitar lines mix with catchy but weak melodies and make Selfie as a whole a bit of a wash. “Serpeant” stands out by breaking away from that predictability. The strange lilt of the track works well with its bedroom pop reminiscence. Its movement in and out of familiar time signatures make it an elusive song, which fits with its enigmatic, nursery rhyme-like lyrics. Lines like “Bed bug/Fuck me on the rug” and “Serpeant, keep flapping your tongue” are crooned out lowly, making an interesting contrast against the songs cavernous and textural chorus.
The opening line of the album’s title track (“What if you posted a selfie and it didn’t get one like, Could you sleep at night?”) sums up the tone of the albums lyrical content; preachy, condescending “I was born in the wrong generation” rhetoric. The song confidently berates its listener for not talking to Uber drivers and describes caring about approval as an “identity funeral”. This condescension around social media is something all users are well familiar with, and at this point, it warrants little more than an eye roll. Despite this, the songs sonic texture is fairly impressive. Its indeterminate space and driving rhythm are tense and moving, inviting the listener close, but playing with the dissonance of the bass and horn parts keeps a sort of aggravation present throughout the song.
As an album, Selfie falls flat. If it was meant to be an honest commentary on social media and technology’s place in society, it barely skims the surface of this tired conversation. “Beautiful” has an undeniably catchy rhythmic drive, but its awkward melody weighs it down. “Sign Off” could be a great summer playlist song, but it’s heavy-handed and patronizing opposition of Twitter and Snapchat don’t allow for it. Bekt’s almost R&B vocalizations don’t quite hit the mark with the flatness of the vocal processing. The album’s production shows a clear development of Bekt’s artistry from his previous work but displayed in limited variations. As experimental as the arrangement’s become, the few tricks learned are repeated throughout the album and the songs themselves. On Selfie, a few cool but underdeveloped ideas come together and mansplain social media to the listener.
- Catchy hooks
- Successful sonic palette
- Predictable form (drum loop, guitar, sample, vocals, mute one of these every once in a while)
- Weak writing