Calm Down, the brand new album from the Zoë Kravitz-fronted band Lolawolf, is good. Not just in the sense of "Hollywood celebutante is better than expected"—it's actually really interesting, creative music that reimagines today's outre pop music landscape, but does not replicate it. (Sorry it has to be this way with the disclaimer, but you know how it goes when famous people do things; also, it could have sounded like the Queens of Dogtown, Kravitz's character's band from Californication.)
There's a surefire MIA/Santigold DNA on a few of Calm Down's tracks, in the sense that they're dub-and-dancehall-influenced, beat-driven and make ample use of Kravitz's occasional staccato toasting, but Lolawolf doesn't stay in that pocket at all. Throughout the 12-song LP, the trio, which also includes Jimmy Giannopoulos and James Levy, explores syncopation and drum-machine noise, Timbaland-style breaks ("Stay With Me"), Dr. Dre g-funk melodies ("Bitch"), weirdo jazz ("Skipping Days"), and Kravitz's voice anchoring it all in as many different styles. She's got a velvety tone that's casual as an afternoon hang, but can truss it up when she wants to get super R&B widdit, or screw it down when it needs to get dirty. Lolawolf is clearly a producer's project as much as anything, a scratchpad for different rhythmic palettes and harmonic flips that sound a little frayed at the selvage on purpose and way cooler that way. Stream the whole thing below.
Image via Eric Feigenbaum for Remedial Media.