Phil Fresh struts his confident musical evolution in the face of heartbreak on ‘L.A.T.E.’
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Sydney artist Phil Fresh has released his official follow-up to his debut album ‘Excursions of Love’. The EP, entitled ‘L.A.T.E.’ (translation: ‘Love Ain’t That Easy’), comprises Phil’s experiences with multiple loves and a multitude of heartbreaks. The title by its very nature is emblematic of Phil’s acute fatigue towards love, as contrary to romanticised depictions of it being easy, love has been the source of missed opportunities and heartbreak for the Sydney artist.
Throughout the EP, Phil is at home in his delivery of both unique non-traditional rap flows and heartache-induced melodies. The project is built upon the keenly developed sonic wavelength within a production team that includes Xiro, Nikos Haropoulos-Smallman, Kwame and Phil himself. Furthermore, the EP thrives across all technical departments; it is a masterstroke of heavy synths, complex layered melodies and a fearless abandonment of any self-doubt.
The opening to ‘Gone’ reels you in with Phil’s use of a reverberating autotune that plays out against a backdrop of whooping chants and a lively build-up of electronically-enhanced bass. The track evokes the feelings of when you have moved on from a relationship but the other person wants back in. Phil’s flow beyond the intro is uncompromising and breathless whilst gliding over building synths, all of which leads into a bombastic, pleading finale where Phil tries to unravel his all-consuming thoughts: “You came too late, please don’t be late” he pleads to seemingly no avail.
‘IG Luv’ ft Kwame & Kymie
‘IG Luv’ reflects the relatable search for something real on a platform that is the epitome of fake. The track is a playful look at the interchange of a relationship in its early stages where you basically only know their online personality, and are caught up in an overthinking accentuated by the titular impersonal IG Luv. Kymie brings her excellent vocals on the chorus alongside Phil, whilst regular collaborator Kwame reaffirms the self-aware tone of the track by breaking down the mentality of entitlement that comes from a ‘relationship’ existing only in a virtual world. The track’s ending takes a sombre approach, as Phil juggles moving on and still craving that eponymous IG Luv.
‘Honey’ ft BOY SODA
Inviting, reverberating synths fill every fibre of your being as you enter into a track about navigating the often vague and confusing intentions of that special someone. ‘Honey’ sees Phil switching up his flows with aplomb whilst BOY SODA delivers a luscious and instantly catchy classic R&B hook. The song’s grand finale sees Phil wishing to rekindle the love, in spite of this significant other moving on to someone else over a background of slowed instrumentals and BOY SODA’s exquisite vocal stretching.
‘On The Low’ ft RISSA
‘On The Low’ explores a unique kind of love, one that presents itself as especially ideal and bereft of all the bullshit – a secret love that Phil encapsulates his contentedness with through the lyric: “You know it hit different on the low”. The track’s chorus balances Phil’s buttery vocals alongside a twinkly instrumental that evokes feelings of looking at the stars and thinking of that person who does it for you like no one else. RISSA’s inclusion on this song is utter perfection. The Sydney artist’s delivery and cadence is exceptional, whilst her interchange with Phil late on in the track is an added bonus to an already fantastic track.
Sequentially, ‘Never Know’ arguably appears to play out like the fallout from ‘On The Low’, with a perfect, albeit ill-fated, setup leading to a harsh downfall as feelings become deeper. Booming drums and a retro-aesthetic seem to elicit feelings of reminiscence, of being left with nothing, and of the eternal struggle of chasing time whilst regret compounds your every thought: “But I can’t sleep without you on my mind”. As Phil’s frustration builds, the track’s synths gradually pierce even harder, accentuating the heartache of a love that now seems too far gone to recapture.
Every facet of ‘Late’ is incredible. The track plays out as being structurally akin to Phil rummaging through the insecurities, regret and ruminations in his subconscious. The crux of ‘Late’ is this feeling of being too slow to admit to one’s feelings, something which is felt intimately in the guitar melody that follows the chorus. Whether this delay in admittance was unknowingly for the better or worse is Phil’s ultimate struggle. In wholly relatable fashion, Phil lists insecurities that have been forged in the fantastical, only to admit to the truth of his disappointment in himself for not ‘saying it’ when he had the chance after sounding off potential justifications. As the track (which features additional vocals by Kymie and Bread Club’s Dillon Frazier) brews and comes to a climax, Kwame arrives to add venom to Phil’s frustrations with his repeated chanting, with the drums hitting hard and the power chords coming in strong to conclude this superior project that entails a search for one’s own conclusions.
Love is hard, debilitating and overwhelming to navigate. And Phil Fresh appears to know this better than anyone. ‘L.A.T.E.’ traverses a variety of different stages of love, with the themes enhanced by a clear intention to not be bogged down by a commitment to a specific structure or ‘love story’. Rather it is multiple avenues of love that take up its runtime. And perhaps, the ultimate conclusion that one can arrive at by the time the EP ends is the significance of accepting that the best kind of love ain’t that easy.
In terms of the music on show, this is a reminder of what can be achieved not just through collaboration, but through a bold desire to make something true to oneself that is unencumbered by any expectations beyond one’s own cognisance to entrench every part of themself in the music. ‘L.A.T.E.’ signals Phil Fresh stepping away from self-doubt and embracing a confidence in his artistic depth, something that has been destined from the beginning of his artistic journey.
Words by Matthew Badrov and Amit Pala
First photo by @curtissweet.photo
EP Cover by @jadedamico and @Rewii_
Last photo by @jadedamico