At a time when artists are under pressure to produce content nonstop, when a creator’s online presence is the mark of their relevance and “content is king” is the mantra of every creative industry, Houston native WOLFE de MÇHLS goes against the grain of conventional music industry wisdom. After more than a year-long hiatus and a social media semi-blackout, the singer/rapper/producer has dropped an EP titled Alondra. The five-track project was released on March 6 by LA-based Wave Up Records, following the release of the teaser single “Emotions” in February.
Despite the industry’s trend away from mysterious characters and towards constant social media outreach, WOLFE has somehow carved a successful niche for himself as a total enigma. Like The Weekend circa 2011, he is rarely seen or heard from. The futuristic chillhop singer and producer makes music on his own schedule and terms. With Alondra he continues that defining independent streak, both musically speaking and in the way the project was promoted — or rather, not promoted.
Like his previous work, this project balances a thin line between rap and r&b. While rhythmic and melodious, each of Alondra’s five tracks feature elements of lo-fi hip hop production and a chopped and screwed aesthetic that oozes Houston influence. Presumably produced by WOLFE himself, the EP marks his continued growth as a producer and the progression of a futuristic sound he’s been refining for years.
Once called “the rap-r&b hybrid of the future” by HypeBeast, he lives up to that moniker on the trippy and sonically mesmerizing opener, “Lifeguard.” WOLFE’s tracks are often hard to follow lyrically, yet easy to get lost in musically. “Lifeguard” fits that mold perfectly, with an almost hypnotic melody wrapped in hyper-distorted looping vocals. It’s more experience than song.
That opener leads cleanly into the project’s anthem track, “Waves Are Real,” a Frank Ocean-esque single that picks up the tempo with a more driving hip hop beat. On “Waves Are Real” WOLFE’s vocals remain auto-tuned to a higher pitch, building on the EP’s overall hypnotic essence.
By the third track, “Out of Your Way,” the vocals become less muddled and the project’s theme of emotional conflict begins to take shape. Though not on the actual EP, Wave Up Records has indicated that the previously released “Emotions” is the project’s official single — indicating that both the single and EP are two parts of a combined effort.
While “Emotions” stands apart from Alondra in its more instrumental production and down-pitched vocal distortion, it features the same bluesy vibe that carries the overall project. According to Wave Up, the song “embodies the mental state of a hopeless romantic battling societal constructs within today’s cultural climate.”
That same theme is mirrored on Alondra’s fourth track “Ugly,” a tortured, lo-fi ballad that opens with the line “I just want…” seemingly cutting off before the words “to be loved.” This is followed by the question, “Do you love me?” in WOLFE’s wavy, auto-tuned and syrupy vocals.
In all, the project seems to reflect both the artist’s internal struggles with self-love and the external struggles of personal relationships. Alondra is a deeply conceptual project that leaves much interpretation up to the imagination. In true WOLFE de MÇHLS form, the emotional impact is layered in the unorthodox musicality of the work, and therefore unique to the listener. Fans of the mysterious performer will likely be left wanting after hearing this short EP and accompanying single, though his resurgence could likely indicate more content in the near future.