By Kevin Chan
Khalid has had one of the fastest rises to stardom in recent memory. From the moment he burst onto the scene with the now 5x platinum single “Location” to his collabs with ultra-high profile artists like Calvin Harris, Khalid has laid a solid foundation in the music industry with his unique voice and shown that his vocal talent extends across multiple genres. Showcasing this diversity is Suncity, Khalid’s latest EP with just seven tracks (two of which are sound bites, so really five). While the project fails to deliver radio hits like “Location” or “Young Dumb & Broke” from American Teen, it still serves as a platform for Khalid to flaunt his versatility across styles.
In the Coldplay-esque opener “Vertigo,” Khalid’s gets introspective as he reflects on his life leading up to his success. On the next track, “Saturday Nights,” he ventures into some Jesse McCartney territory (seriously, compare the guitar instrumentals in this song and “Beautiful Soul”) as he sings about being there for someone with a rough home situation. These first two tracks are largely forgettable, but, thankfully, the next three are consistent highlights. “Motion” is a light and smooth jam and the best showcase for Khalid’s vocal talents on the EP; he pushes his voice into a higher register than usual while maintaining the soulful character of his trademark croon. The track ends with a remixed version of the following track on the EP, seamlessly blending the smoothness of “Motion” with the more uptempo trap production of “Better,” creating a perfect transition. For the concluding track “Suncity”, Khalid branches out into the Latin Pop genre, mixing his distinctive crooning with the vocals of Empress Of in the Spanish chorus.
Overall, the project succeeds in exhibiting Khalid’s versatility across various genres, but its wide variety of styles keeps it from locking into any consistent groove. The album never truly hits its stride. This may be due to the fact that it is a short EP, but it could also be due to the fact that Khalid is largely exploring new territory here. I was disappointed that the project did not feature more of the R&B influenced songs that drew me to Khalid in the first place. No song elevated itself above the rest and there is no clear "next big hit." But all that aside, the album is still a solid work from a stellar artist. Suncity is the embodiment of the word “vibes,” and will find a place on your best chill playlist of the next few months.