THEOPHILUS LONDON || ROSE ISLAND || HOUSE OF WINE REVIEW
I am not even past the second song and already I am glad to see that Theophilus London picks up ROSE ISLAND right where he left off with LOVERS HOLIDAY (granted that the album felt more like an interlude between the two).
The ambience and syncopated rhythm of “Lisa” gives some ode to experimental electronic music in the vein of MGMT. And his suave vocal style in “Morning Kisses” leaves enough creative room for him to exhibit his Prince influence.
The electro-disco jam that is “Dancing,” with its most sophisticated intro, is the obvious mainstream Pop hit that will help Theophilus usher in his wave of what some call Nouveau Pop—an accessible pairing of urban & ethnic influence with punchy but clean instruments delivering benevolent melodies.
“Love Is More Red” indicates that the listener is going into the meaty, more honest and adventurous chunk of the collection. The narrative 3rd verse acts as a sort of epilogue for the first two minutes of the song which contains a complex POV on the idea of “life & love.”
I did recognize “Take It Off” as a smooth tribute to Michael Jackson—(think about it)—but the chord jumps and minors that came in unexpected moments were a bit off-putting. Undoubtedly, though, this song will grow on me.
By this point in the mixtape, there is one fact I acknowledge as an aspiring creator of music with the utmost assurance—ROSE ISLAND is one well- and intricately-produced body of work! The vocal processing, the delicate mastering and expansion of the pads, the ambience in background guitar tracks—it is obvious Theophilus has access to top-notch resources. “Take It Off” is Exhibit A in that argument.
My short days interning for a Deep House/Techno label allows me to respect “Lighthouse” in a minimally satisfying way. And “She Said OK” puts TL on plain with the likes of ASAP ROCKY—real hip-hop with a tinge of Neo Soul and a rock that can only come from New York. It is satisfying to hear him “really rapping” because it reminds us that his lyrical delivery is still one of his strongest qualities as an artist despite the open-minded and experimental vision for his music.
The sample in “Big Spender” coupled with the bounce in London and Rocky’s rhythm is simply an A+.
The gothic “I Wanna Kiss (Kill) You” feels like a comedic spoof of Sweeney Todd.
“Beamed Up” is the perfect addition to any HIGH playlist. The bedroom-ready second half of the song gives it dual purpose!
The muffled and ambiguous melody in “Crew York” gives my ears a strange reference to Jay-Z’s “Threat” from the Black Album.
After a couple of adventurous tracks, Theophilus goes back to what he does best in “Dance Hall Days”— Nouveau Pop. By “Days” you really feel like you’re finally on Rose Island—every song up to it was just the plain ride! The saxophone, I must note, is a tasteful addition. There’s not too much of it either, just a little to please the senses.
I’m sure there’s some Miike Snow influence on the humble but admirable Sheila E. cover that is “Glam Life.” What a brilliant idea to combine the creative spirits of Mark Ronson, Sam Sparro and Theophilus L, working under their moniker CHAUFFEUR. I can tell this song is just light work.
I’m not surprised to see TL rejoined with vocal smoothee Jesse Boykins in “Live In Me.” Their fans’ wishes are aptly and timely honored here on ISLAND. Who can gess what’s playing in the background?
There’s Trance in “Last Night,” dubstep in “Tour de Rose”—it’s clear Theophilus London took care to cover all his bases! By the 18th track you feel satisfied because he has indeed achieved a lot.
If you’re hip and you’re pretty open-minded about music, I’d definitely recommend this as an after-work, unwind album you’d listen to as you participate in your respective recreational activity. :)
All in all: its a solid album; I give it a 93%. The only thing that could have possibly made it any better is if 2 Chainz was on it.
Thanks for reading! Definitely download Theophilus London’s mixtape—just click the picture above!