I loved Khalid’s breakout 2017 debut American Teen. “Location,” “Young, Dumb, and Broke” and “Another Sad Love Song” are all infectious hits that will stay in my rotation for years to come. Still only 20 years old, Texas-raised R&B crooner’s voice is gorgeous, but it’s not particularly energetic, and at nearly an hour the album did get a little boring. Needless to say, I was excited to see Khalid drop this 7-track EP, Suncity, last week.
One of these tracks is an intro and the other is an interlude, so we’re really dealing with five new songs here – the perfect sort of project to push the envelope and do some experimentation. Unfortunately, what we’re getting is syrupy, by-the-book R&B. “Vertigo” is pretty, and has some epic string swells, but ultimately lands too hard on the side of traditional pop for me. “Saturday Nights” would be right at home on a Tracy Chapman album. No disrespect to Chapman, but it’s not the sound I’m hoping for from Khalid in 2018.
“Motion” is a glossy production with no momentum at all, and while the previously released single “Better” has a bit more drive, it’s still pretty forgettable. Empress Of, the only featured artist on the project, brings some life to the closing title track, and I will give Khalid some credit for trying out a Latin pop sound here, but this might be the cheesiest song on the whole EP.
Nothing on Suncity goes beyond surface level. I’m hoping Khalid digs a little deeper on his next project.