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Alpha Chrome Yayo is certainly a peculiar name for an artist, but it is catchy. When I first saw it, I knew it was my destiny… to write a review of his new EP, After Dinner Cigar. It’s a pretty eclectic mix of genres on this release—new jack swing, synthwave, retrowave, funk, and chilled pop. I’d like to note that the cover art is easy on the eyes too.
The musicianship on the album is top tier and this is immediately apparent from the opening track. It’s even more impressive that it’s all the work of one person, the aforementioned Alpha Chrome Yayo. The bass and guitar performances are my joint favourites with the keys coming in a close second. After Dinner Cigar is a short listen, clocking in at just under sixteen minutes. Still, it’s an enjoyable experience, the minutes flying by.
One minute you’re experiencing early ’90s new jack swing—the pounding drums, with catchy keys reminiscent of Teddy Riley and Michael Jackson. The next you’re experiencing synth-driven sounds from the late ’00s/early ’10s, reminiscent of Kavinsky. At different points, I was reminded of The Beatles, Daft Punk, trap music and modern pop. With its mix of styles and different soundscapes, the EP provides a range of experiences. The production and musicianship on show from Alpha Chrome Yayo is top tier, adding a modern feel to those nostalgic tracks.
The mix is fine for the most part, but there are some minor issues. For example, the bass, though a highlight, is too high in the mix at times, overshadowing the other instruments. I love bass, but I don’t think it should be drowning out a guitar solo, for example. I found the second track a bit busy, no one instrument really stood out, and there wasn’t much breathing room. Lastly, the guitar was too low at times—a disappointment given its quality.
Above all, the pacing of After Dinner Cigar really works. It starts out with in-your-face new jack swing and ends with EP highlight, ‘Ink’. One track I’d love to hear as an instrumental, and with a different mix, is ‘Something Really Good’. This is a stellar, sonically pretty track that blends the sounds of the ’80s and late ’00s electronic music perfectly. Unfortunately, the robotic vox on the track just don’t work for me, again drowning out the guitar. Without this flaw, it would be the highlight of the EP.
Last but not least is ‘Ink’. All the songs here range from good to great—this is great. It’s such a chilled track, but it has moments of mystery too. There’s a tropical pop vibe, you can picture yourself somewhere sunny listening to this. This is the type of soundscape I love on a record, chilled, ambient and, at times, trippy. ‘Ink’ is relaxing yet infectious. It’s simply fantastic.
After Dinner Cigar is accessible and unique, with something for everyone. I may have criticisms, but with a few tweaks, it’s nearly flawless. The bass is godly and the solos are gems. I can see Mr. Alpha Chrome Yayo becoming a big player in the very near future, especially in synthwave. An after dinner cigar sounds good right about now…