The ‘Good Vibes, Vol. 1’ title and the relaxing by the pool direction of the cover art capture the mood for Chillz’ newly released debut project. With song titles like “Grateful”, “Chop Life” and “Smile”, the project portrays Chillz as brimming with positivity as he emphasises on savouring life in bright colours and the delightfully, mellowed out Afropop melodies that buoy the project’s snappy 24-minute duration. ‘Good Vibes’ carries the quintessential elements of a multipurpose summer project bound to inspire shimmering shoulders and full-bodied sashays at camaraderie-based events and is also fit for leisurely listening with a pair of earphones.
As important as mood is, though, the interesting twist that elevates the project beyond the well-worn capacity of a feel-good pop album, is the presence of a substantive core anchoring the helium-propelled parts. “You show me your scars, I’ll show you mine”, Chillz solemnly sings on “Intro”, hinting at a troubled past that makes his high-spirited follow-up track, “Grateful” featuring Mayorkun all the more riveting.
The seventh track “Start Again”, recently named NATIVE’s Best New Music pick, clearly serves as the album’s emotional centrepiece. Spotting the self-produced blend of bulbous talking drums and chillwave synths to evocative effect, Chillz harps on the virtue of resurgence, briskly unpacking his thematic concerns in less than two minutes. Beaming in with impassioned, backup vocals, the soulful folk timbre of Sir Dauda’s voice adds an angular layer of rustic charm, increasing the song’s affecting quality.
“Smile”, the very next track, acts as the companion piece, readjusting the tension of “Start Again” into the visceral peak of ‘Good Vibes’. The composite Igbo Folk soundscape, comprising staccato Fender Rhodes piano chords, heaving palmwine guitars, live drums and local percussions, creates a red-boned groove that accentuates Chillz’ set, encouraging listeners to unwind and curl their lips upwards because unfavourable circumstances last only for a while. “Smile” is also significant, in that it acts as the main bridge of specificity, where Chillz’ lyrics seemingly directed at close and out-of-touch friends, takes on a relatable life primed to resonate beyond its universality.
Combined with the more lightweight parts of the project, ‘Good Vibes’ highlights Chillz’ amiable persona as the rounding element of his premium music-making abilities. Credited as the sole producer of every track, sans the TMXO-produced title track, Chillz showcases himself as a neo-Afropop auteur with subtly eclectic choices to keep his compositions constantly refreshing. To capture the imagery of living life to the fullest on “Shun (Turkey)”, airy organ chords and sparsely knocking 808 synths serve as ambience, while the heartfelt sentiments aimed at reassuring his love interest on “Down” is propelled by an electro-pop combination of aqueous piano harmonies and clanging 808 snares.
Favouring hook-reliant songwriting and poignant one-liners to bring his more plain lyrics into sharper focus, Chillz’ rather serene baritone also adds depth to his performances. Hovering on top of the beats, the simplicity of his melodies are enjoyable and effective in conveying the intended gravitas. For example, in contrast with Mayorkun’s more passionate crooning on lead single, “Grateful”, Chillz’ low-end vocals also conjure the sentiment of being appreciative regardless of daunting situations.
Popular rapper, Falz rounds out the guest list, following the already laid down ethos on “Chop Life”, delivering a lightweight verse with a playful cadence, over the buoyant mix of a spry early ‘00s R&B acoustic guitar and bouncy Afropop drum riffs. Also an infectious bop, “Chop Life” is indicative of the wide mainstream conversations Chillz is set to enter with ‘Good Vibes, Vol 1’.
Featured Image Credits: Instagram/chillzhimself