Alex Fleming’s Black Atlass is like a fusion of The Weeknd and Gardens & Villa raised in stylish, sophisticated Montreal. However exclusive the Montreal scene might feel there, 19-year-old Fleming has already made stable connections, including fellow Quebec native and Fool’s Gold contemporary, A-Trak. Black Atlass was the supporting act for Woodkid’s Golden Age Tour across Europe. Young Bloods is his second EP, a follow-up to his 2012 self-titled debut and a prelude to his first full-length album.
“Blossom” opens the six-track album with a groovy vibe. The song is imposed with a syncopated, percussion shuffle and an inverted synth motif. “It’s true love,” Fleming repeats thrice in the chorus; but he will also “treat you like a friend” and ask, “remember me?” Between that confession and the revamped R&B style he’s feeding, we most certainly will.
Fleming spits a few verses a la Yeezy in “Free Angel.” With production and a voice as smooth as newly-resurfaced ice, he lays the groundwork for a rap bridge. He boasts with a classy arrogance:
Got it all to blow and then some/the one and only reason that y’all should pay attention/if you forget every single thing I mention/Just know I’m en route to be the next living legend/Yeah, with some stocks in Dior/And a space in the city with some burrs(?) on the floor.
And he might have a right to that attitude, according to his latest exclusive opportunities. Fleming was featured in Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2012 Les Arts Décoratifs Museum exhibition preview and sat front row at Dior’s SS 2014 in Paris. But don’t think he’s in the habit of getting too comfortable with his experiences.
“Conforming to things turns me off,” he told National Post special reporter Elio Iannacci last September.
Young Bloods certainly doesn’t settle into a one-note groove. “The Rose” and “Young Bloods” transition the album into a more soulful, downtempo style. The title track is particularly euphoric, borrowing distinctly dream-pop elements. Think M83’s “We Own the Sky” at the chorus of “Young Bloods,” where Fleming’s vocals softly soar: “beneath the driveway there’s hope for the young bloods.” He’s quietly aggressive throughout the record, in a sensual Rhye-esque way.
Piano melodies introduce “Burning Man”, before the accompaniment fades and distorts into something deeper, darker, and much more danceable. But psyche, Black Atlass spins the atmospheric vibe into a rap groove. Here’s to hoping he releases the track’s sexy instrumental stem.
By the time “Jewels” rolls in, the listener is sated from sound equivocal to a full-bodied wine. “Yeah, I’m holding on by the jewels, my love,” this New Age Gatsby whispers. Fleming ends it anticlimactically – the track is almost a ballad, but not quite – a show of non-conformity, per se. It’s an easy segue right back to the start of “Blossom,” and the positive feedback loop Young Bloods creates is hard to exit.
The EP was released today via Fool’s Gold Records. Black Atlass is also having a party this Wednesday to celebrate the occasion if you’re reading from Montreal / feel a hit of wanderlust and have a few air miles to spare. Expect a glamorous, mellow night at one of the city’s most unique nightclubs.
Article by Joanna Jiang