freddyboy captures blurry snapshots of complicated emotions on ‘Vignette02 EP’
While Toronto-based musician Freddy Kwon has released a handful of singles and EPs under the name freddyboy so far, he’s no newcomer to the scene. Kwon played guitar for The Kents, a band who created a buzz with their coming-of-age indie pop before rebranding as Heaps, who make “droney, ethereal, punchy art-rock [about] time, change, and privilege.” Kwon’s solo releases as freddyboy tread some similar ground as that of his current band, with a heavier emphasis on the “ethereal.” The labeling of freddyboy’s two EPs as vignettes gives you an idea of what you’ll find on them: short, soft-edged lo-fi sketches that evoke the fleeting nature of emotion. On latest tape Vignette02 EP, Kwon explores feelings of uncertainty and ennui within his dreamy soundscapes.
EP opener “Makes Me Feel” begins with a glittering intro before Kwon’s vocals enter with “11 o’ clock is the time for me / To get up from the mess I created,” setting the mood for a song that fits comfortably into the liminal space of nighttime. The verses become sparer in their instrumentation as Kwon continues to describe the feeling of being “stuck in disarray,” but when the chorus hits, the instruments come back to the foreground and leave his voice floating between layers of gauzy sound. The song’s title ends each chorus, its repetition inviting you to come up with your own way to finish its incomplete thought.
A tense bass line underlies “Way I Feel,” which begins with Kwon singing about interpersonal discord, asking “Will you take me as is?” and “Is this what we fight for?” However, he pivots to a more philosophical tone when he asks “Is there anything you think about / That is worth fighting for?,” a subject made explicit with the chorus of “Constantly reminded / Existential crisis.” The song’s tension crescendos to the release of the lush coda, where the instruments lock into a groove beneath murmured vocals.
Closer “Will It Ever” continues on the topic of restlessness, carrying a slight feeling of disorientation from the syncopated beat beneath its hazy synths. Kwon sings of how “Today’s already feeling tired” before his vocals dissipate into a cloud of reverb at the chorus. A snippet of a sampled voice saying “But he was filled with childish frustration” perhaps sums up the essence of the EP’s themes, but while Kwon’s lyrics pose unanswered (or unanswerable) questions, the dreamlike beauty of his compositions provide solace where words fail.
freddyboy’s Vignette02 EP is out now via Spirit Goth Records.