ALBUM REVIEW: Sega Bodega, Romeo
What many people don’t understand about our page is that we are not out to hate artists, we are not against art or the people that make it (unless they are Ed Sheeran or Hobo Johnson). When our readers see a B, C or even god forbid a D dolled out to their fave, immediately they give us shit for not properly understanding the album. To break it down quickly, this is how we come to specific conclusions grade wise. The A range is coveted, because as hardcore music fans who are obsessed with the history of the art, we like to reserve those spots for music that is able to compete with the best of the best. After grade corrections, we concluded that only SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE’s ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH and St. Vincent’s Daddy’s Home could play in the big leagues. We can confidently say that these two records are able to go against any album that has ever come out in terms of musicality, replay value, originality, lyrical substance and lasting impact. So when we say an album is in the B range, it means that we love it very much. C’s are records that we just like, and if they were just a bit worse, we wouldn’t like them and they’d land in the D range. Sega Bodega’s new album Romeo straddles the line between what I like and what I dislike about modern electronic music, so it gets a C-.
Let me start with the elements and songs that I do enjoy. For starters, I want to give flowers to him for being one of the best working producers in electronic music. His close collaborations with Shygirl, as well as those with Eartheater, CouCou Chloe and Dorian Electra present the rare straight face take on an inherently silly genre. It is clear that he loves rave and hardstyle, as well as indietronica and he is able to craft interesting music for others and himself that clearly shows that. “Effeminacy” starts Romeo off well enough with plenty of momentum, weaving in elements of OPN-flanger vocals, hip-hop drums and rave rhythms into the beat. From a vocal standpoint, he sounds adept on the mic, mostly relying on effects to keep himself afloat. The previously released “Angel On My Shoulder” follows this up with a little more experimentation, beginning with blasted out stoner rock reverb before going fully trance with it. As far as choruses go, this might be his strongest on Romeo as well. “Only Seeing God When I Come” also has a great chorus, with some really tender singing and a continued theme of religion. The beat locks in with that neo-2 step PinkPantheress vibe that has been really popular recently, and I honestly love his take on this genre. Finally, “Luci” ends the record on a high note with a clever mix of industrial, Latin electronic and acoustic guitar music. The chipmunked vocals are a little goofy, but again, his reverent approach to the music really adds a layer of artfulness to what is going on. Without this strong closer, this album would be a D+.
Any song I didn’t just mention lands somewhere in the field of barely like, dislike or boredom. I think some strong features would’ve really made this album stand out. Notice that I didn’t say “big” features, because Charlotte Gainsburg and Arca are both artists whose work I’ve loved in the past. The former is just used kind of awkwardly over a deep house beat, and the latter does the opposite of what I’d expect in a bad way. While I don’t need Arca to always just do the same thing on every song, I feel like she is barely present over an unexciting beat on her song. What makes me dislike the other tracks all really comes down to Sega’s vocal presence and lack of songwriting prowess. I would expect the title track especially to really encapsulate all the elements that make his sound and this record great, but it just ends up feeling really limp and shrug-worthy. The kicks don’t hit hard and his vocals are smothered in so much autotune that it feels like one of those crazy beauty filters that you might find on Snapchat, hiding all the flaws while looking laughable regardless. Perhaps the worst song on the record is “I Need Nothing From You”, a slow-as-syrup ballad that never quite musters up to anything at all. Imogen Heap is a very clear influence here, but that’s about as far as it goes. This is the opposite of a Standout Track, it just fades into the background and even after listening ten times, it still leaves absolutely no impact on me. Mr. Bodega, if you’re reading this, I have a few pieces of advice that would’ve made this record better. Shygirl should’ve been on “All Your Friends Think I’m Too Young For You” and Isabella Lovestory should’ve been on “Luci”. If you are going to do a very slow track, please get a more competent singer. And feel free to have more danceable tracks on your albums, there is nothing shameful with having some fun. A C- just means there is room for improvement, don’t take it in an offensive way, please.