Daggers & Shields is a sexy, modern pop record that delivers. With a smooth croon comparable to Adam Levine’s, Frase gives a subtle and soulful touch to his songwriting. The production is flawless, the bass pops and pumps the way it’s supposed to, and the keys and strings offer as many ethereal melodies as they do immediate hooks.
“Big Smoke” jumps into action like Justin Timberlake’s mega hit, “Sexyback,” and its funky bass line should worm its way into your ear in a similar fashion. CAde’s guest rap vocal isn’t just a throwaway feature to appeal to the pop masses either. The emcee enters with a flow relaxed enough to match the chilled out vibe of the music and even effortlessly provides a name drop to the title of the song.
If there is an immediate standout track, though, it has to be “Cali Gold.” The song personifies Frase’s ability to build a song to just the right amount of tension. It lets you sit in its Dr Dre inspired watery groove before unleashing maybe the EP’s biggest hook yet, only to bring it back just one more. It also showcases Frase’s ability to lyrically be as tongue-in-cheek as he is introspective. “Why did the chicken cross the road, though? Was she in it for the minute, or the infinite was possible? Crowned queen for the apostle, I ain’t trying to lead your eye to the tower of the cross, though.” He sings during an especially well-placed bridge before the track’s climax.
Another impressive thing about this record is how the songs work as a whole as well as separate parts. No track feels like too jarring a change, while they all offer something to the sonic tapestry. For fans of artists like Pretty Lights or The Weeknd, or anyone who’s curious or excited about the best of what modern pop has to offer, Daggers & Shields won’t let you down.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy