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September 26, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Alt-pop artist bends genres in captivating album

What Could Possibly Go Wrong

Sony Music Entertainment

What could possibly go wrong while listening to Dominic Fike’s aptly named new album? It’s been approximately two years since fans received the EP, “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos,” from the rising alt-pop guitar hero. “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” showcases a beautiful blend of genres that exhibits Fike’s dexterity as a musician and is enhanced by his honest and raw lyrics.

The album’s opener, “Come Here,” is an 80-second twist on loud-quiet grunge, similar to that of the band Pixies. It contrasts muffled screaming and clear spoken-word lyrics seamlessly, creating the illusion of organized chaos and clamor. These vocal elements laid over Fike’s enticing guitar licks give listeners the perfect beginning to the project. 

“Come Here” is followed by the indie anthem “Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake).” The track begins with an electrifying guitar riff and an intriguing hook that eventually floods into a midnight-dance-party-in-your-room song. The catchy chorus and fun melody are similar characteristics of Fike’s older popular songs like “3 Nights,” “Babydoll” and “She Wants My Money.” However, Fike’s musical growth from his last project is showcased through this album’s more complex production.

Taking a slightly dimmer turn, Fike sings truthfully about his opinions regarding his own fame in the track “Cancel Me.” In a confrontational yet simple manner, he raps, “I hope they cancel me / So I can go be with my family / So I can quit wearing this mask, dawg / Tell the people kiss my ass, dawg.” He shamelessly admits that he doesn’t enjoy the intense attention that he receives for his talent and that he misses his private lifestyle. While it’s likely that many artists feel this way, few of them disclose it with their fans through their music. Although this hesitancy is most likely out of fear that they could lose some of their fan base, Fike doesn’t seem to worry. His ability to express his honest feelings through his music is extremely important. This glimpse into an artist’s mind deepens a listener’s connection with their music, making the songs more significant while enhancing the listening experience. 

The track “Chicken Tenders” is another party-pop anthem with a fun and catchy chorus. This style is slightly contrasted with the R&B sound of the next two tracks, “What’s For Dinner?” and “Vampire.” “What’s For Dinner?” is introduced with a bouncing, plucky guitar line that gracefully slides into Fike’s muffled falsetto of a voice. 

“Vampire” has a similar theme to “Cancel Me.” Fike sings of a party in which everyone in attendance feels like an enemy that’s out to get him: “Everyone at this party’s a vampire / This ain’t red wine / We’re all food for the bloodsuckers.” This theme aligns with Fike’s aforementioned dislike of being the center of attention. 

“Politics & Violence,” a highlight of “What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” exhibits Fike’s genre diversity once again, fusing rap and pop. A lofi beat loop toward the middle of the song signifies the song’s change to the rapcentered section with a hazy yet smooth transition. 

The album closes with the track “Florida.” Reminiscent of a Frank Ocean song, it begins with a beat that eventually crescendos into pitchedup vocals. Ocean would often use the tactic of pitching up his vocals to make himself sound younger when he sang about memories from his youth. Fike utilizes this technique in a similar way in “Florida” as he raps about his youth and growing up in the state. Although the song is set to a laid-back piano track, with keys provided by Fike himself, it eventually transitions into a boastful rap about his rise to success. Near the transition into the rap section is where Fike pitches his vocals back down to normal, signifying his presentday point of view. “Florida” works as the perfect closing track for the album as it encompasses Fike’s come-up story as a whole instead of focusing on specific situations as he does in the midalbum tracks.

“What Could Possibly Go Wrong” establishes a fun and relaxed mood from the start. It brings listeners through stories that are set to memorable melodies with downtoearth lyrics. For a debut album from the rising artist, it’s fair to say that “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” features some of Fike’s best work. He flexes his talents by not playing it safe, which is more than many artists can say with the release of a new project.