fri 23/02/2024

Album: Genesis Owusu - Struggler | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Genesis Owusu - Struggler

Album: Genesis Owusu - Struggler

Ghanaian-Australian continues his exuberant alt-pop mission with a unique swagger

Seein' red like Rothko

There’s been a sense of anticipation around Ghanaian-Australian Genesis Owusu ever since his ebullient 2021 debut album Smiling with No Teeth. He won a bunch of Arias, Australia’s Grammys, but could he break internationally? He’s toured the US with Paramore and is due to hit Europe in the Autumn, including a stop at Berghain.

His new album is a match for its predecessor, in terms of eclecticism and bravado, and has a higher quantity of immediately hooky songs, so it shouldn't be a hindrance in taking things next level. Owusu has said that it was partially inspired by Waiting for Godot and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, surreal-existential responses to the madness of daily life. Indeed, regarding the latter, there are constant references to being “a roach”; one song is even entitled “The Roach” and contains lines such as “Feeling like Gregor Samsa/A bug in the cog of a grey-walled cancer”. But this is no morose pity-fest. Owusu bashes his way beyond the “Black Dog”s that plagued his last album via a tidal wave of bangers. “When you’re going through hell, you just keep going,” he spits on the driven, contagious post-punk pop of “Stay Blessed”.

Struggler intermingles slower Parliament-meets-hip hop soul-funk, such as the delicious, fluid-bassy “That’s Life (A Swamp)”, with something skronkier, as on the relentless, gothic electro-indie 4/4 attack of “Freak Boy”, as if Depeche Mode were produced by LCD Soundsystem. The highlights are many, a couple more being the catchy-chorused, roach-addled, gloom-glam of “Balthazar” and the woozy psyche-soul of closer “Stuck to the Fan” .

What Owusu does is (sort of) a grittier, rock-friendly doom-pop meld of The Weekend, Childish Gambino and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-era Kanye. He does it with panache and would make a tasty, festival-headlining superstar. Struggler is a blast. If the global public agrees, this could be his moment.

Below: watch the video for "Leaving the Light" by Genesis Owusu

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