MRSHLL’s voice is the perfect blend of lusciousness and personality. It’s something you could easily melt into and yet he doesn’t just do silky R&B; on Archives 1 he has fun with different styles as well as throwing different musical ideas together and pressing blend.
focus on me
The EP kicks off with the sprightly “focus on me” Afrobeat rhythm that MRSHLL smoothly slides onto. It progresses and seems like it’ll be relatively standard, only to have fluttering vocal chops in the chorus. It sounds like an intentional glitch, perhaps like a camera lens trying to focus on a subject. But for the most part, it stays within the lane of the Afrobeat genre.
“butterflyz” does not do this. It starts innocently enough with lyrics playing with the concept of having butterflies when you like someone. But when the metaphor is explicitly said, the beat shifts ever so slightly, then full on swerves with the introduction of an electric guitar. It makes me wonder if the track also plays with the idea of the butterfly effect, because after the first electric guitar entrance, the song continues to shift so that when the chorus comes back, we’re in a completely different sonic space.
This chameleon type of song isn’t a first for MRSHLL; his song “Starlight” has an even sharper swerve. If anything, the fact that MRSHLL revisited playing with genre twists proves that this is something that he wants to continue to play with. I’m a big fan of it, because it makes for an engaging experience listening to songs that build an expectation, then slam a fist down and completely overturn it with no warning.
“potato” is the track I want to see on stage the most. I can see someone voguing to this with the absolute confidence and fun of a drag queen. It’s a song that’s fun with a beat that’s easy to step to and boosts your confidence as MRSHLL sings,
“You know you’re a queen
you know you’re a king
don’t fit in categories
you can be anything”
It’s more sparse compared to other tracks, but MRSHLL’s cheekiness and character fill it out. Easily the most fun song on the EP, MRSHLL’s voice changes from silky to cheeky, overflowing with character, as if the title wasn’t a hint. He goes between speaking (similar to Britney Spears’ part in “Scream and Shout”) and then singing with layered harmony, which nicely contrast with each other.
After “potato,” it’s like we return from a neon night out to a lonely apartment and our thoughts. In “nervous,” MRSHLL leans into an R&B slow jam as he asks, “Baby, baby, why you gotta make me nervous?”
And yet in the silky sound of the track, the lyrics are at times violent, clashing with the sound as he uses metaphors in verse two that cut through, literally and figuratively:
“Furious design, borderline violent tendencies…
Knife in me, cut me deep—
In the heart”
deserve better w CHAI (smooth remix)
After the silkiness of “nervous,” we get to explore the sweetness of R&B in “deserve better,” a song that could be about a romantic or platonic relationship. Featuring the equally luscious voice of CHAI, winner of K-Pop Star 5, the song is a conversation between two people assuring each other that “you deserve better than any other.”
The music video is simple and more performance based as both singers have scenes of singing. The interaction on back and forth riffs as well as moments of harmonizing are sweet and the track ends with MRSHLL laughing which sounds like it was him at the end of his recording session enjoying himself, a nice personal touch to a song that’s earnest.
think about u
To wrap up the EP, MRSHLL ends on a song that’s just him and a guitar, which makes me imagine a cozy scene perhaps confessing to someone. The vocals are softer and the lyrics are sweet and tender:
“All is true
I can’t spend a moment without
I don’t think I’m myself when you’re not here with me
You’re all I think about, baby”
I’m officially a fan of MRSHLL’s voice after this EP. But beyond having a gorgeous voice, I also really enjoy his vision in playing with genre and being unafraid of mixing ideas together and just having fun.
And it seems like we’ll be getting more music from him somewhat soon. He said in a recent Instagram post that he’s working towards his first full length album, which is a release I’ll be highly anticipating. MRSHLL covered a lot of sounds and ideas in a mere six songs; what will he show us when he has more?