It’s not all about the lyrics

Transitions matter


The Come Up Show from Canada, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

By AJ Houk, Collegian Contributor

Emo R&B artist Corbin, formerly known as Spooky Black, has returned from a three-and-a-half-year hiatus with the release of his new album “Ghost With Skin.”

It appears that a few years to clear his head was what Baltimore-native Corbin really needed. The newest release features instrumentals that are easier to digest for fresher audiences when compared to his earlier work. The sonics in tracks such as: “Don’t Give up” “ctrl alt del” and “Cry Myself to Sleep” make the album enjoyable to listen to.

The smoothness of the transitions from track to track make the album feel like one extended, cohesive story rather than just a couple of randomly scattered songs. When listening, I had to glance at my phone more than once to dictate if the track had changed. The downside to this was that the album felt much longer than its actual length of 48 minutes.

The ethereal and melancholic vibe of the instrumentation, coupled with his mumbly and tired voice, give an almost shoegaze-like quality to the body of work. This indie-esque aura aids immensely in the appeal and uniqueness of the album, bridging multiple genres and styles together in a seamless manner.

However, where Corbin falls short on this project is in his lyricism. The shortest track was around two minutes, and the longest a little under five. Each one of the songs on this album is virtually the same in terms of structure, starting with a chorus rather than the more standard first verse opening. Lyrically the songs don’t fare much better, each one sounded the same as the last and began to blend into one 48-minute track with little variety throughout.

This uniform sound adds to the difficulty of attempting to finish the album in one listen. The lyrics were also very self-deprecating which, after a while, became hard to listen to. The lyrics and sound, are extremelyreminiscent of youtuber, Dream’s song “Mask.” The music very much starts to sound like nothing but ~nobody loves me and I’m just being used~.

Unlike earlier emo albums like “Pinkerton” or “The Black Parade,”  Corbin opts to switch out of the rock undertone previously utilized in his music which ultimately helps to set him apart. He proves that the instrumentation can be just as good, if not better, when it takes a more indie or shoegaze approach.

The album starts off strong with “Tell Me.” The first track is very catchy and its chorus has been stuck in my head for about a day now. The album has its dips in the middle section, primarily because the music gets repetitive. For the most part however, the project increases in quality and strength with each song.

The album ends with its strongest song “Cry Myself to Sleep.” The guitar riff is by far the best on the album and the song is more fast paced and grounded in rock than the others. His voice seems to come into full bloom during the song, perhaps symbolic of the progress he has made or to represent him coming out of his shell. I can’t quite tell if the song is one long story, merely sounds like a story or is the same story from multiple perspectives. Either way, “Cry Myself to Sleep” puts a nice finish on the project. The song ends with a bit of an unresolved progression from the guitar which shows the trek Corbin still must make and how his story is far from over.

Corbin still has a long way to go in terms of improving his music. His return has proved that he can do just that – and very well. His transitions and instrumentals have greatly improved when put up against his earlier work. I believe his lyricism to be his weakest attribute but that might be something you as a separate audience member really like, and that’s ok. I have never been the biggest fan of emo music, yet this album has opened my eyes to the potential it has. I give the album a rating of 5/10. I would recommend it if you really enjoy melancholic music, or want to broaden your music horizons, but I don’t think it is an essential listen for everyone.

I am very much looking forward to hearing just how much Corbin can improve next time around.

AJ Houk can be reached at [email protected]