Wrabel Offers Up His Own Pop

Sometimes it makes sense to lean in to clichés. Even though there is an infinite number of creative-minded artists out there working tirelessly to push music forward in new directions, there is a reason why pop music is, well, popular. There are certain universal conventions that enjoy widespread appeal and have kept a portion of the music business afloat through turbulent times. The Los Angeles singer-songwriter Wrabel taps into some of those accessible musical qualities on his recent EP We Could Be Beautiful. The five-track effort details his ups and downs in romance with passionate delivery and powerful pop production.

The lyrics on We Could Be Beautiful traverse the familiar, varied emotions embedded in the pursuit of true love. Wrabel writes of remorse from a former relationship on “11 Blocks,” chasing someone playing hard to get on “We Could Be Beautiful,” recovering from heartbreak on “Bloodstain,” and finally reveling in newfound love on “Ritual” and “Poetry.” The up-and-down, wide-ranging nature of Wrabel’s romantic conquests will certainly be relatable to most audiences, almost to the point of making the music lose an original voice. On two different songs, Wrabel prefaces lyrics with the line, “I know it’s cliché…” which is a qualifier no artist would hope to have to use. There’s another moment where Wrabel perhaps drifts too far into generic territory, this time on “Bloodstain.” Amid otherwise fairly effective and empowering lyrics about picking up the pieces after being heartbroken, he writes, “I would rather love and bleed than never feel love at all,” which is just too close to the oft-quoted Tennyson poem in a way that purports to present it as a fresh statement.

While much of the lyrical content on the EP may not be memorable, Wrabel offers moments of strong musical delivery and production, which gives listeners a slightly more clear portrayal of his personal artistic voice. The best example of this more original touch comes on “Ritual.” The most notable trait of the song is the syncopated hits in the pre-chorus that show adept musicianship and allow the song to delve deeper into the groove. Wrabel also has one of his more memorable vocal moments in the chorus as he reaches into the upper range of his voice with the words, “I never knew love, never knew love, never knew love, living without you, living without you.” It’s one of the more catchy hooks on the EP and is made even more effective with the song’s lush harmonies and moving delivery.

If We Could Be Beautiful is any indication, Wrabel is someone still searching for the line between making music that has mass appeal and that which is simply overdone and boring. The EP proves that he has significant talent both in his vocals and production and songs like “Ritual” show that we is on his way toward finding the right combination of music with accessible themes and just a little bit of original flair. Either way, We Could Be Beautiful shows that Wrabel is an artist on the rise.

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