You may have heard the name Andreas Moss before...
You may have heard his music before. But you have never heard him like this. After headlining tours, earning number one chart positions, reaching over 3 million streams on Spotify, touring with the likes of Juicy J, Andy Grammer, and Fetty Wap, he has settled down to put his world into music for us. His debut solo EP is here, and it is a journey.
This whole album feels very personal, but no track more so than "Deep Down Below" (which features Yacht Money). It straddles a bizarre chasm between esotericism and accessibility. On the one hand there is a clear creative vision here. Moss is definitively making a statement that demands interpretation. This is thrown in to particular relief when watching the track's video, which Moss had a direct hand in the concept, direction, and cutting of. It feels biblical, with overtones of Kubrick and Wright.
Biblical being the key word, given that Moss is a former Christian music prolificant. He is now moving away from this following his struggles with addiction, brought about in wake of his trouble reconciling his sexual fluidity, which clearly prompted this song. He makes references to to being a submarine, to hiding, to being deep down below. He is bearing his wounds for all to see.
However, while there is a lot to unpack, you'd be excused if you missed that just listening to the well-mixed filtered synth pulses that make up the general patina of the song. At first glance it seems trivial, it's a pop track, it's exactly what you'd expect. The chorus even features alternately pitched up and down vocals that seem almost comical. But look closer, and there is a world beneath that surface that is rich, deep, and that a listener (or viewer) can either work to come to terms with, or ignore. A potent metaphor for Moss' musical life up to and including this point.
The rest of the EP is also strong. "Stuck in My Feelings" invokes, among other things, the myth of Icarus, and wrestles more obliquely with the trials the singer has gone through in the last few years. It is more sensual than "Below," musically as well as in the writing, which ultimately makes it more superficial than its predecessor. However, the EP needs this structurally. To follow one Odyssey with another would be wearing. Hot on its heels is "Kodak," which feels like an '80s throwback on the verse, with hints of Drake thrown in for good measure. Its chorus is explosive and is sure to be a hit on the dance floor. Its equates love and drugs, as many songs have before it, but here there is a freight-train of nihilism firing through it. The terminal line of the chorus, and the song, is "They say you're killing me… but I'm already dead." Enough said.
"Lonely" (ft. Melanie Pfirrman) fires up the Blade Runner synth. It tells the story of a doomed love affair. At first glance it appears to be talking about the plight of being single, but a closer look reveals that it's about feeling lonely in a relationship. Feeling separate from the person who's supposed to be in love with you. The killer harmonies Moss shares with Pfirrman speak to a unity absent in the couple being described in the song.
"Kokain" progresses with a steady rise and fall, then quickly escalates to epic. With the addition of roaring guitar backing, the song goes from a march to an avalanche. As one would expect, it's a story of addiction that revels in its own rejection.
Penultimately, "Dear Misery" presents as an oddity on the album. It plucks for muted deference over the emotional bombasticism that powers much of the rest of the EP. The opening solo string drawl that re-emerges throughout the song feels reminiscent of David Newman's work on the Serenity score. It's a slow and moody piece in which Moss appears to write a breakup letter to his own pain. The curiosity of this, is that it implies that, at one time, he was in love with his own hurt, and saying goodbye to it, whilst the healthy thing to do, still brings with it a measure of loss and regret.
Finally, "Perfect" is the piece's resolution, and it definitely feels like a conclusion. It's message is an acceptance of the self and of others. Everything from the acoustic guitar to the synth feels softer than the album that has preceded it, like Moss has come out from the fight and reached a point of peace, and of rest. A place he could not have come to without that fight, but nonetheless, a place that does not miss the fight.
This EP really is a journey. Individually the tracks will of course hold up, but seeing them in sequence speaks to the very real struggles of a person dealing with very real problems. He shares those struggles with the listener in allegorical form, like a musical missionary. Coming from a religious household and being a former stalwart of the Christian music scene must make this an intuitive step for him. However, given the established context of him leaving a lot of this behind, that missionary position comes with a million caveats. His reconciliation of all this is in the guise of a pop singer. This is because pop music is an art form that is superficial until the listener decides that it is not. Andreas Moss feels like he is acutely aware of this, and so has created something here that presents a perfect superficial veneer. You can listen to this album and not think twice about a single lyric. Once that veneer is stripped away, however, he has left layers and layers of insight and scar tissue for you to revel in. Go ahead and do so.