Blackstarkids, signed under the same label as Beabadoobee and Glass Animals, offer their listener many different styles on CYBERKISS*. The album takes you on a journey without subscribing to any genre. In terms of its consistent identity, however, it is inarguably a sentimental homage to the early 2000s. CYBERKISS* takes many musical and artistic themes from the Gen Z zeitgeist and produces a repertoire, but not an amalgamation. With trouble blending its many styles, its form and structure lack necessary foundation. Nevertheless, it offers many points of view. Taking clear inspiration from artists such as Blood Orange, Playboy Carti, Pink Pantheress, and 100 Gecs, the album is definitely representative of a collective time and space. However, it struggles to find a constant ground to stand on. Some strong individual tracks hold their own, such as REJECT MEDIA which acts more as an interlude in the middle of the album. REJECT MEDIA, a creative and slightly sardonic song, laments the state of the digital world. “Protect yourself, protect your mind, no media, no social media”, says the voice while strong 808s boom. This message appears antithetical to the overall manifesto of the album: the appraisal of the online world. Even the name CYBERKISS* insinuates that the entire album conceptually takes place over the internet.
This album epitomises the “Y2K” cultural identity Gen Z has feverishly adopted and transfigures it into music. What this refers to is the cultural obsession with the early 2000s, absorbing the appearance and identity of being chronically online (albeit 20 years ago), on an AOL chat room, wearing JNCO jeans. Although the resurgence in Y2K began with particular pockets of counterculture in the mid-2010s online, it has become undoubtedly mainstream and material. The listener is left with the impression that this album is trying hard to appease Gen Z. This could be a reason why it emulates so many different artists and styles; it is perhaps trying to leave itself open to whatever may land them the most creative success. It makes one wonder if there was a lot of ‘scaffolding’ enforced by their label, Dirty Hit. Overall, it is a crowded album and it does contradict itself at points.
Image “Smartphone connected to earphones” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.