Tears in the Club

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Tears in the Club, the debut from Los Angeles-based electronic producer Kingdom, is a hypnotic offering that is more likely to inspire those eponymous waterworks simply by way of its sparse beauty. At times hallucinatory and narcotic -- like on the sample-heavy ruminations featured on half of the album -- Tears is a futuristic journey that transports listeners into a cloudy, swirling inner space. Inspired by house and R&B music, the artist born Ezra Rubin may have built a name for himself with toe-tapping body-movers, but here he relies on atmosphere and space (the pulsing title track is the closest he wanders into earlier territory, and even that remains an ominous and claustrophobic experience). Highlights like the dreamy "Nurtureworld" and hazy "Timex" spur the imagination, while "Haunted Gate" and "Into the Fold" meander through icy soundscapes that blur the line between states of consciousness. These are songs to get lost in, compositions that reveal more about themselves with each successive listen. On the more pop-oriented spectrum, Rubin employs four vocalists who elevate Tears and balance the ambient voyages. Najee Daniels' vocals are distorted on the looping "Each & Every Day," while New York rapper Shacar contributes to the woozy "Breathless." SZA lands a pair of standout tracks -- "What Is Love" and "Down 4 Whatever" -- that have the honor of opening and closing the album proper. Syd tha Kyd (The Internet/ex-Odd Future) delivers another highlight with "Nothin," a languid R&B jam that also gets a buoyant club mix on the album's epilogue. Overall, Tears in the Club may aim for the melancholy, but it's also pretty enough to please those in search of a lush, soothing escape.

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