In August 2017, Candian singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar made a solid name for himself with the release of his debut album, “Freudian.” Despite being an artist with two EP’s to his name, his breakout songs “Get You” and “Best Part” skyrocketed Caesar to the top charts. After a few sporadic singles throughout 2018, Caesar surprised fans with a full-length album on June 28 titled “CASE STUDY 01.”
Caesar initially amassed wide appeal through blending the sounds of soul, gospel and electronic music to create a unique sound that was equal parts experimental and melodic. R&B has historically been known as a genre of music that welcomes innovation and boundary-pushing, and Caesar embodies this phenomenon with his sonic delivery. However, it almost seems as if he’s forgotten what made him appealing in the first place on this new project.
The opening track, “ENTROPY,” is a promising beginning to the album that has the same sound as material off his last project. The production is comforting and features pleasant kick drums and guitar riffs. The lyrics touch on themes of doubt and self-love, which is nothing new for Caesar. Unfortunately, this song serves as one of the only highlights on the project.
On “LOVE AGAIN,” Caesar is completely shown up by Brandy, who’s featured on the track, as he struggles to find a melody that suits the beat. Brandy’s voice is powerful and confident while his is clumsy. “FRONTAL LOBE MUZIK” features guest vocals and production from Pharrell Williams and the Neptunes, which is an interesting addition to the vibe of the album, but Caesar’s lyrics take a turn for the worst here. His attempts at being confident and sexy when touching on his newfound fame come off as cocky, unlikable and out of character for him. Lines such as “Never got no pussy actin’ like a pussy, let my nuts hang, god damn, look where that shit took me,” make this song a difficult listen when observing the lyrics.
The second half of “CASE STUDY 01” contains songs that are either completely forgettable or a downright slog to finish. Caesar never necessarily had strong vocals or much range, but he was melodic and had a smooth vocal delivery. Songs like “RESTORE THE FEELING” will leave listeners wondering if Caesar was even invested in it. The beat is painfully repetitive, and between Casar, Sean Leon and Jacob Collier, no one can save the song.
Songs that overstay their welcome are never fun to listen to, and “TOO DEEP TO TURN BACK” is a prime example. While the track displays some decently well-executed beat switch-ups, it doesn’t justify the overblown runtime of the song. The only bright side is the thought-provoking religious views Caesar expounds on in the last part of the song with lines like, “I've slept like Jacob, a rock for a pillow, run swift like Elijah, away from the middle.”
The album ends with the songs “COMPLEXITIES” and “ARE YOU OK?,” both of which are forgettable tracks that are too spacey and contain too many somber moments for them to be notable. It’s almost as if Caesar is struggling to finish a marathon and has phoned it in for the album.
“CASE STUDY 01” will, unfortunately, go down in Caesar’s career as a blemish on his overall artistic vision. It not only offers nothing fresh in terms of his unique style, but it simply isn’t a good R&B album. Wherever Caesar goes from here is a mystery, but hopefully it won’t get any worse than this.
Contact Julian Denizard at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.