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Enter The Void With Labrinth’s Ends & Begins

Back with his third studio album, UK artist, Labrinth goes to every extent on ‘Ends & Begins’ to showcase his standout production and otherworldly vocals that have shone in several ways over the course of 20 prominent years in music. In light of the release, we take a trip through the album’s many courageous twists and turns.

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Labrinth’s artistry has existed and manifested on a timeline that spans over 20 years in the industry. Having been boosted into the mainstream with his early tracks that featured artists like Tinie Tempah, Emeli Sande and Busta Rhymes, he was identifiable first through his bewitching, obscure vocal performances, and his genre-bending production second. The early 2010s saw tracks like Earthquake with Tinie Tempah become bombastic chart-toppers, that scaled one end of his artistry with electronic, high-pitched synths, crashing drums, and catchy, yelpy choruses, but on the other end, he fronted sentimental piano melodies and sweet crooning on tracks like Beneath Your Beautiful with Emeli Sande. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know Labrinth as a creative mind that knows no bounds, and instead is willing to exercise his abilities to its fullest potential. Having recently scored and soundtracked the first season of HBO’s Euphoria, familiarity with his work has come up in the midst once again, introducing a new generation of people to the artistry that first captured everyone’s attention.

His third studio album titled Ends & Begins feels like a playlist to Doomsday. The sky rains fire, the ground shakes, and Labrinth rides it out by conjuring up touching, heart-wrenching vocals that sound like a plea for something more. He utilises storytelling in an authentic way that compliments every peak and valley throughout the album, enlisting impressive guest features to share the tale with. 

Having found a musical muse in actress and singer, Zendaya, who has contributed to vocals to two Labrinth-produced songs for Euphoria, their musical relationship now exists outside of the walls of a TV show, as she features on the opening track for the album The Feels. The track is enveloped in piano melodies, driving drums, and pulsing synths, with both Labrinth and Zendaya take centre stage vocally. Zendaya brings a refreshing, effortless performance to the track, making for a moment of stillness in an already dazzling opener. The momentum of the opening track sticks like glue, picking up then dipping at just the right moments throughout the album. Covering is a standout, organ-heavy track that truly proves that Labrinth’s vocals haven’t wilted in the slightest, as it feels reminiscent of the more heartfelt, sombre tracks in his discography, like 2014 single Jealous.

At the halfway mark, Labrinth sets in place a marking point that separates the album with A Turn of Events. This track introduces the second half of the album, which feels like the calm after the storm. If we’re referencing the Doomsday analogy, this half of the album feels like a miracle moment of salvation, a sense of hope, a guiding light. Labrinth shows a more playful side to his production, creating an atmosphere that is more breathable, light and exhilarating. Living to tell the tale of this sentiment is artist Billie Eilish on Never Felt So Alone, who contributes incredibly striking, powerful vocals and harmonies that yearn for connection. Her vocal performance on this song isn’t something we’re often treated to from the artist. Enriched by Labrinth’s unorthodox vocal pacing and robotic-sounding reverb, it’s easily outlined as a surreal moment in the album’s journey. The closer to the album is the title track, Ends & Begins, which takes you on an all-encompassing sonic journey. This song can speak to many ends and finalities, the final countdown, the last dance, one’s final breath. He enlists an array of drum patterns, chimes, and strings to soundtrack his last words on the album, leaving you with much to contemplate and consider.

Labrinth’s fierce ability to command your attention, then leave you with much to desire is telling of his abstract, one-of-one approach to music. This album, though short in length, packs a mighty punch throughout, as it balances haunting sonics, screeching vocals, and soft harmonies, all at once. To treat it as an introduction into Labrinth’s abilities would be to say that this is his start, however Ends & Begins tells us that this is just the resurgence of something special from someone who has honed in on their craft for over 20 years. And if you need any more proof, it’s written in the music.

Labrinth’s album Ends & Begins is out now, featuring ‘Never Felt So Alone’ and ‘The Feels’

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