As the son of a Baptist pastor and gospel singing music, LA-based frontman TOLLIVER certainly takes a lot of influence from his religious background when composing his music. Filled with a grand and broad sense of atmosphere, the alt-RnB artist almost looks to contradict his own strict childhood as he releases his debut EP ‘RITES’, a collection that pays homage to late-night parties and anonymous sex.
Coming across as hybrid of MNEK and The Weeknd, TOLLIVER’s music is all about embracing both the angel and devil in all of us. While his lyrics focus on a hedonistic lifestyle, filled with impulsive pleasures and rewards, he also reflects on the consequences of those decisions. Showing both sides to every idea, and deliver a collection of tracks that cut closer to the bone than most.
Speaking about the new EP, the frontman said, “'Rites' is about my darkest, happiest places. It's about doing wrong but feeling right. It's a release from guilt, a reason to disappear under the dance floor lights clutching your friends and going as dumb as you like.
“The songs are about fantasies, but nothing described is fantastic. I write about things that are immediate, things that just happened to me. I need to let them go, or they'll drag me to hell.
“It's ultimately a joyous EP. I like indulging, I like redemption, I like sex. But nothing is worse than broken relationships, empty bank accounts and fear. So I beg for forgiveness via these songs, knowing I'll be back at confessional in no time.”
Opening up with the sultry ‘I Gotchu’, the single addresses the difficult family dynamic he has experienced over the years. Having not been close with his brother in recent times, his sibling went through a difficult divorce, allowing him time to rekindle his broken relationship and giving him the opportunity to build those broken bridges back up.
From there, the record continues with the previously released ‘Emmanuel’, a paranoid example of the pitfalls of unprotected sex with strangers. Flipping back and forth between the ecstasy of pleasure and the panic of possible infection afterwards, the frontman looks to give an insight into how brief moments of fun can quickly play on the mind, resulting in a far more depressing situation.
This then plays into the theme of the final two tracks, ‘Picture Of You Naked’ and ‘Twisted’. Continuing the bold and expanse sound of the first two singles, this pair cap of the EP as an expressive and captivating finale. Filled with the angst and frustrations of his circumstances, the release finishes as confidently as it began, taking cues from his father by preaching words of dire warnings and humble acceptance.
Focus single ‘Twisted’ zooms in on a particularly bacchanal night, one where turning up nearly tore him down. A grotesque post-show argument leads to a night of numbing the pain in a dimly lit warehouse, dancing and sweating the pain out.
Giving us a better idea of ‘Twisted’, TOLLIVER explained, “’Twisted’ is about a great night turned suddenly dark, a night when Courvoisier and kissing strangers is the only solution. A post-show argument sent me spiralling into what was admittedly a turnt party, only to face my fractured and fucked relationships the next morning.”
D I S C O V E R
- R&B & Soul