Alex Crossan, the island boy known as Mura Masa, was born in 1996. Let that sink in. Not for the reason you think, mind you – we’re done with this whole “oh wow, look how young they are” – but for the reinforcement that nothing ought to shake up complacency more than the freshness of youth.
If that sounds a covert dig at bigger producers who’ve released star-studded albums recently then, well, yes it is. Mura Masa’s self-titled debut is the opposite of affected, with Crossan’s beats the sound of an organic electronic future that so many are trying to pioneer. It takes a twentysomething from Guernsey to light the way though, and he does so rather well on this debut.
Of course, we’re not the only ones to think that – which explains the presence of names like Charli XCX, living out her tropical pop fantasy on 1 Night, and even Damon Albarn who fronts the low-slung album closer Blu. One of these is certainly more of a success than the other, but what neither of them are is safe: Charli’s put through her paces in all the right ways, while Albarn is made to sidestep any quarter of protection as we hear him more naked than we have for quite some time.
It’s clear what the Mura Masa priority is, and that’s the sound. While Calvin Harris is floundering to readjust in a post-EDM world, Crossan deftly employs newer acts (NAO and Bonzai shine brighter than anyone else with their features, even after all this time) amid the likes of Christine & The Queens. If Harris’s Feels is all a bit ‘watching your dad’s mates talk about ‘Molly”, Nuggets is a song so subversive that if it weren’t for the opening dialogue you’d second guess that it’s about cocaine.
Complaints? Minimal, but the first half relies a little bit too much on a more tropical sound that has the good grace to fall behind as the album reaches its final stretch. Jamie Lidell and Desiigner are among the weaker lines of defence, but there’s never any doubt that these are all Mura Masa songs. When your line-up is so damn impressive and your album is self-titled, it’s only fair that you come out as the biggest star; Mura Masa, with all his millennial confidence, does exactly that and his debut is all the better for it.