By Liam Toner (@tonerliam)
After building up a considerable hype under the Spooky Black moniker, releasing atmospheric and soulful cloud rap influenced tracks such as viral success ‘Without You’ the solo artist went for a change of name, taking up his birth name Corbin. This name change, which he credits to Spooky Black being “a dumb name”, would also suggest a desire to be taken more seriously as an artist as he progressed musically leaving behind his do-rag and Vaseline t shirt wearing days. With his new album Mourn, Corbin has lived up to the name change putting out a much more mature and stylistically developed release.
The key ingredient to all of the tracks on Mourn is Corbin’s vocals: where in the past they were soulful and dreamy, it could be said that they sounded bored and lazy though that’s not the case here. Mourn has learned not only to build on his style but also how to be much more expressive in his delivery and this is what really sells this album. In choruses and hooks (and this album certainly has hooks), Corbin breaks in to more aggressive shouts where his voice shakes and it sounds like he’s about to break down, really ramping up the emotion that he is trying to put across in his music. In the past Corbin would try to create depressive moods in his music but this improved vocal style captures that a lot better and sounds a lot less superficial than it had before.
This really stands out in tracks such as The Fold Up which seems to be about Corbin’s relationship with somebody suffering from a drug addiction and his feelings of helplessness as they deal with the troubles of being an addict.
The instrumentals on this release are relatively subtle in order to let Corbin’s vocals be prominent at front of the mix but most tend to feature atmospheric moody synth lines over drum loops. These loops vary from trap style beats on the title track Mourn to the almost swinging rhythm on No Title. On Revenge Song barely any percussion features leaving Corbin and the synths to carry the track which he pulls of easily. A standout track on this for me would be Giving Up which features some of Corbin’s most emotionally delivered vocals and a solid hook paired with probably my personal favourite beat on the album.
Overall, Mourn features some of Corbin’s best tracks to date and the now more mature sound he’s arrived at really makes for a solid standout album, one that’ll no doubt feature in countless AOTY lists.