Photo Credit: Juco via WB Records
Bryce Vine is the modern day equivalent of an Outkast member and Childish Gambino musical love child. Vine, who adopted the stage name based on his love of “vinyl” jazz records is a self proclaimed “suave hippie,” and began garnering national attention after appearing as a contestant on FOX networks Glee Project back in 2011. Though his stint didn’t last long, the then 22-year-old still managed to make a name for himself thanks to his cool and fun personality, easily becoming a crowd favorite. Vine continued to seize momentum thanks to his Berkeley Music industry connections, promptly releasing two EP’s the following three years (2014’s Lazy Fair, 2016’s Night Circus).
This kept the indie pop singer’s buzz going until his persistence finally paid off notching his most successful effort to date, with 2018’s college party favorite “Drew Barrymore”. The song has currently amassed a record setting six million streams, which is highest amount for a debut single by a male artist thus far. The fun-loving track is a “cool kid meets hot girl” anthem at its finest. The title is obviously derived from a young man’s attraction to girls that give him the same type of feelings that the cute 90’s actress heartthrob Drew Barrymore did for millions of teenagers, and it is as universal as it is endearing. As he coolly croons: “Cause you’re the next Drew Barry, and I want more. // And all these other girls wonder what I f*ck wit u for.”
It is a perfect representation of Vine’s liberating style. Moving ahead, comes the long awaited arrival of the NYC natives debut LP 2019’s Carnival. At just a quaint 10-tracks (including an interlude) the entire project has a slick laid-back vibe to it. Like the kind of vibe you would feel riding down Sunset Blvd on a warm breezy night. Take for example the free-spirited follow up single “La La Land” with fellow West Coast MC YG (who makes the only cameo on the album). Vine playfully invites a female companion to come explore the night with him singing on the hook: “Hey baby waste ya time with me in California.” “Classic Perfect” is another winner as he flows on about an ideal love, and the reasons why he adores his girl behind a fun beat bopping instrumental. Vine croons: “Girl, you’re classic and you’re perfect, and you’re alrighty ’cause you’re flawed like me. // Yeah, you’re new-school but you’re old soul. // Yeah, you special, you’re all I need.”
He keeps the mood going on the free flowing “San Junipero”, which may be the best both lyrically and vocally on the album. Vine admits it was one of his favorites to make in an extensive interview with L.A. Weekly. Stating the subject was derived from an episode of Black Mirror. He went on to explain his overall vision with the project and what he feels is his contribution to the music culture as a whole: “I’m just trying to make people feel better. I like writing songs that make me feel better. Music was that for me growing up, I like to do things because they’re worth doing. Then I can write about it later.” It is a widely known fact that Vine struggled with ADHD as a young child and adolescent, elaborating how still to this day, his music has helped him cope: “Music was a way to deal with things without needing anybody’s help. So when I realized I could make my own songs I was like, ‘Deal.’ It’s self-therapy.”
To that note, he does show some welcomed versatility on the more solemn “Deep In Shallow Water”. The song is mediocre vocally but still has a fully loving “I’m a drunk guy on the beach spilling my heart out” appeal to it. Following suit, is the thoughtful “Love Me, Hate Me” as Vine dives deep into a self-loathing pity party, but produces some of his best lyrically: “I f*cked it up, I hate it and I blame myself. // Shots of love, no chasing, think I need some help. // Cross me off, erase me, yeah. // If you can be happy while I’m going crazy, don’t want you to love me. // I want you to hate me. If you can be happy while I’m going crazy. // Don’t want you to love me, I want you to hate me.”
Unfortunately elsewhere Vines “cool kid charisma” only takes him so far and eventually burns out with tracks like “Factory Love” featuring a monotone mess with average vocals as he drones on and on behind a bland backdrop. “Love Is A Blessing” is a bit more eventful, but still spawns the same type of uninspiring ideals.
In the end, Carnival is Bryce Vine’s creative musical playground! Though he’s not the best at anything in particular, he’s consistent throughout, making for a fairly decent debut. Albeit, it’s not going to win any prestigious songwriting awards or iconic accolades, but the outcome is exactly what Vine intended for. For everyone to have a good time! And we’ll take it.
Written By: DeShonna Watson