ALBUM REVIEW: Bladee, Spiderr
Updated: Oct 6
"DG-9 against the world."
Over the past year, I have been very keen on everything Drain Gang. DG, for those of you who don’t know, is made of the four core members Bladee, Ecco2k, Thaiboy Digital and Whitearmor, the in-house producer. Like Wu-Tang Clan or Odd Future, there are disparate members that are connected but have their own successful careers, like Mechatok, Gud, Varg2TM and Yung Lean, who has his own group called Sad Boys. All of them come from the same neighborhoods in Sweden, and have been on a steady underground grind for the last decade. When I saw the four core members on their first U.S. tour date since before the pandemic, it was a special night. I was up close and personal with the group, taking press photography. They were shrouded in smoke, singing over a backing track, with colorful lights shining in between them. It was basically like watching a boy band perform for a bunch of people who wore lots of Vivienne Westwood but not enough deodorant. And honestly, it was incredible. Then, I saw the crew at Brooklyn Mirage, where Bladee and Ecco2k performed back-to-back. Ecco hopped around the stage like a little goth bunny rabbit and Bladee auto-crooned with really bad graphic design of his own name written in skulls behind him. Like Balenciaga, this group is so good at finding the perfect meeting point of mystery, silly goofiness and genuinely captivating design in all facets. Sound, lights, fashion, choreography, all of it.
It was no surprise that their last album was drawn with colored pencil and featured sheep noises that may or may not have been made by Ecco himself. It’s no surprise that Ecco’s only album is just called “E”. And by that same token, I laughed but wasn’t baffled by the album cover (by @sadcheerleader) for Bladee’s latest project Spiderr. A muscle bound, 6’6” Tekken version of Benjamin (who weighs like 130 lbs soaking wet IRL) extends a magical spider(r) to the audience. What I find most entertaining about this crew is the way they manipulate the internet. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that both them and the infamous, modern Beatles aka Death Grips have the same abbreviation, they’re kindred troll spirits. But just like Death Grips, Drain Gang knows how to back up their silliness with genuinely compelling tracks. Spiderr is no exception to the rule by any means, giving eager fans another helping of blurry, colorful, Swedish pop-rap.
The superior Crest with Ecco2k was before their U.S. tour, and found them in a more serious and concert-focused state. Their extended stay here – including interview in Sex Magazine, DJ set at Broolyn Monarach with Eartheater and Lana Del Rey in attendance and set at Primavera L.A. – blew them up to levels that I didn’t think were possible. They sold out the Knockdown Center for two nights in a row, it was undoubtedly the most packed and logistically chaotic show the venue had ever seen. Spiderr finds Bladee at his most self-aware, and that all relates to the context I gave above. He’s hoping not to "flop" and referencing previous records like The Fool. The moods here swerve dramatically between transcendental meditation and silly crazy boy, and we love that. “NOTHINGG” and the following “BLUE CRUSH ANGEL” are a cool down, with the latter featuring the lyrics, “I saw a rainbow in the dark/I put a symbol in a song”. Following this a collab with Ecco2k, who apparently sings, “ก็มาดิสัด เมาเหี้ยๆ” according the azlyrics.com. What is wrong with these dudes? I do not understand XD.
On the crazy silly boy front we have “HAHAH” and “DRAIN STORY”. “HAHAH” plays on the Bladee “it’s crazy” meme by having him say “I’m crazy, I’m crazy. I’m crazy! I’m crazy! I’m crazy! I’m crazy!”. Line for line this is one of the most simple and immediately memorable tracks he’s dropped yet. “D-30 boys really next up!” and “I’m doing great, I’m doing great, I’m doing great, I’m doing great” are two of the standout portions for me. “DRAIN STORY” is more of a wrap up of the U.S. tour life I mentioned, paired with one of the oddest beats I’ve ever heard. He shouts out past work, Thaiboy and normies (who can’t fit in with), all while condemning liars and sell outs. We also get a bit of pop-punk on the album that does over really well, particularly because it morphs the guitar sound into the drain world. In other words, songs like “I AM SLOWLY BUT SURELY LOSING HOPE” are an expansion on the previous vibe without being a full-on departure from it.
Perhaps the best song here is “DRESDEN ER”, where Bladee spills his heart out over what sounds like a Twitch streamer intro. He honestly gets pretty profound with lines like “Watch the stars align at the same time / Angels sing most beautiful songs / Watch the noise die down and reveal signs”, but the silly little beat and the melody just puts a smile on my face and warms my soul. This is the sweet spot that this music accomplishes better than anything else on the market at the moment, it captures that moment in dreaming where you know it’s a dream but desperately try to stay just a little bit longer. When the music gets too dreamy is when I start to lose interest. To me, the shorter interlude cuts and “URIEL OUTRO” are that for me. They definitely have their proper contexts and aren’t too different from what else is offered, but their loose structure results in boredom for me. Overall, this is another W for Bladee and Drain Gang as a whole. While I was a bit wary of his earlier records, I have been really hooked on him since the release of EXETER. 2020s Bladee is here deadlift you out of your slump. GET SILLY!