Atmosphere – Sad Clown Bad Summer #9

5 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: Atmosphere

Everything I tend to like about Atmosphere, boiled down to an all-killer, very concise set of 5 tracks.

The Sad Clown EPs – between albums sets of B-sides or oddities – tend to allow our Slug / Ant duo a bit more room for experimentation, and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. #9 sticks to known quantities – Slug’s narratives about life’s strugglers; Ant’s soulful beats – and allows for that experimentation with a bit of production rawness, giving the recording an incredibly upfront, rough-around-the-edges appeal. The Number One and Don’t Forget’s beats are a bit overcrowded for example, but it just lends those songs an extra ounce of passion, with Slug needing to espouse with that much more urgency to navigate the rhythm.

Some live instrumentation also adds a needed bump to things, and we’re further dialed in on runtimes, never exceeding 3.5 minutes and thus keeping the stories rolling along, Slug incredibly on point with slippery rhymes and flow, the bounciness and lyrical slinging of Mattress ranking as an all-timer in that regard.

So yeah, this one “sounds” like Atmosphere, but it’s a version of the group stripped of excess like party tracks and weed odes, which have their place, but that place is pretty limited; instead, everything on Sad Clown Bad Summer #9 feels like a fresh story, even if / when Slug is telling us some things about his passion for music that he’s told us before, it’s with a new perspective, and when Ant is piecing together some soulful remix, it’s got the bright glitter or bounce of a live guitar or bass line to put it over the top.