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Album Reviews

Labrinth Packs a Lifetime of Moods, Feels, and Maxed-Out Drama Into A Half-Hour of Music on ‘Ends & Begins’

Electro-pop artist’s third album sounds like he time-traveled here from a much bleaker future, but it works

The third album from British composer-singer-producer Labrinth only clocks in at about 28 minutes, but it’s a megadose of mood. The LP’s darkly hued tracks about love and loneliness come wracked with so much tension it often seems as if like they—and Labrinth himself— fall apart at any moment. Labrinth’s maxed-out sense of drama came through in his scores for HBO’s Euphoria. Here his vision of love as a way to channel pain can be exhausting; even the love song “Power Couple,” which has an exploding-stars grandeur, comes from a position of throwing a middle finger up at any outsiders because “they don’t know what the world did to you.” But Ends & Begins’ relatively brief running time makes it an excellent companion for a headphone-assisted, high-octane sulk session.    


Ends & Begins peaks with its two duets, Labrinth’s reconnection with Euphoria catalyst Zendaya, “The Feels,” and the long-awaited official version of his Billie Eilish duet “Never Felt So Alone.” Labrinth produced the former and co-produced the latter with, among others, Eilish’s brother and creative partner FINNEAS, and he clearly has a talent for making himself and his foils seem like they’re feeding off one another in immediate fashion. On the stadium-sized “The Feels,” Labrinth and Zendaya click on record similar to the way they did on the Euphoria-spawned hit “I’m Tired.” Eilish and Labrinth have an undeniable chemistry, and their pairing on “Never Felt So Alone” is an appealing update of the megastar-duet paradigm, even if it’s wracked with anxiety about losing The One.

Elsewhere, Labrinth puts forth intense lyrics that reflect his apocalyptic take on romance, surrounding his wail in opulent music—complete with synth squiggles and 23rd-century Greek choruses—that suggest he might have time-traveled here from a bleaker future. “100 Miles an Hour” is a gorgeous synth-soul track that shows off the full spectrum of Labrinth’s vocal range, with his alluring lower register spinning into a wounded, grasping falsetto; “Kill For Your Love” programs trap beats into a vintage synth, giving Labrinth an uncannily suspended-in-time platform from which he details how one particular partner can make him drop every inhibition. Labrinth is clearly ready to follow love to the end of the world—even as he’s making music that sounds like It’s about to hit at any moment.        

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