EXUM utilises his multifaceted personality on “Xardinal Coffee”; to craft a debut album filled with enough twists and turns to keep it sounding fresh for years to come.
Released, June 4th 2021, ücke.
To anyone close to the former San Francisco 49er Safety, EXUM’s journey into music hasn’t been a surprise. Having penned demos for “Xardinal Coffee” since 2018, the Virginia artist has been fine-tuning his debut for several years, all while performing as a professional athlete. The trope of the secretly feminine, male athlete does not abide by EXUM either, having openly displayed his feminine side for years both to his team and in the public eye.
No, “Xardinal Coffee”, is not surprising for its embrace of feminity, or male vulnerability. However, they are exactly the reason why EXUM’s debut is utterly fascinating to behold. Transitioning from the trap loaded beats of album opener ‘Sage The Room’, immediately into EXUM’s eponymous indie-pop debut single ‘Dark Kept Secret’, “Xardinal Coffee” is masterful in the art of keeping you on your toes. And that’s just the first two tracks.
Followed by the T for Timeless ‘Bad Chick Bad Dude’, with its industrial hip-hop meets videogame electronica style, fighting it out with experimental R’n’B and lo-fi beats, EXUM’s bold sense of style and artistry shines at its brightest here. Numerous repeats later, I’m still completely transfixed by the utterly bizarre yet impossibly cool sound that is produced on ‘Bad Chick Bad Dude’.
The boldness of EXUM’s artistry continues within every track on his debut, partnered up with story-telling that is either salacious or hard-hitting. Varying between discussions of teenage angst now grown into adult anxieties (Dark Kept Secret), his near-death situation during minor heart surgery (Muffin Years In Lydian), getting blue-balls (‘Just Me and the Bottle’) to the tale of a peeping Thomas’ on the funk-fuelled and erotically charged ‘Arrest The Dancer’. “Xardinal Coffee” utilises EXUM’s innermost thoughts and desires to create undeniable bangers, left right and centre.
Delivering indie-pop that quickly transforms into brooding hip-hop, until funk or industrial electronica takes over, EXUM balances the darker moments on his debut with infectious tracks that span far beyond the light-heartedness of generic pop and R’n’B. The extent to which “Xardinal Coffee” can deliver soul-gripping numbers just as well as it can produce infectious earworms across a multitude of genres is almost unfathomable. EXUM’s debut could very well become the next gold standard that most will attempt to replicate in the future.