ALBUM REVIEW: Scarlxrd – Acquired Taste: Vxl. 1

Release Date: December 13th 2019
Label: Island Records


Scarlxrd, the project of former YouTuber and Myth City frontman, Marius Listhrop, is certainly an acquired taste, as the title of his latest and third album of 2019 suggests.

The concept of infusing trap music with an overtly aggressive attitude more often found in metal and punk is certainly nothing new. $uicideboy$ and Ghostemane are two prime examples of artists successfully interpolating vibes and aesthetics of heavier genres into hip-hop.

What makes Scarlxrd unique is his attempt to purposefully overstep the middle ground and shift the precarious balance. Shrill screams, low growls, and an abundance of distorted guitar have become trademark motifs of the sound Listhrop has attempted to craft. Sadly, the results are more akin to the likes of scene-core-crunk fiasco Brokencyde and ‘Crank That (Soulja Boy)’ covering I Set My Friends On Fire. It’s rather irritating and overwhelming, and not in a challenging, endearing sense. It’s a shame, as a clear attempt to create something bold and fresh just comes off as bland and uninspired as a lot of modern trap.

The production is standard fare. Minimal, dark beats with atypical 808s and hi-hats are scattered throughout the eighteen tracks. A guitar sample does pop up occasionally to break the monotony, but, other than that, it truly can feel like listening to the same song on repeat for the guts of an hour.

With ‘Acquired Taste: Vxl. 1’ being the ninth Scarlxrd album (not to mention third this year), it begs the question whether quantity over quality is really the most pragmatic route. Surely, more time and focus put into one cohesive, diverse project would be ultimately more rewarding than consistently releasing mass collections of forgettable throwaway songs.

Easily, the most enjoyable portions of the album are on tracks where Listhrop pulls away from his signature scream-style to rap in a more traditional sense. These are few and far between, however, and ironically negate the original intention of the project. It’s a shame, as Scarlxrd exudes clear ability, showcases a unique aesthetic, and has a noticeable style, yet sadly seems to have no idea how to utilise these to his advantage, leaving this latest project as little more than an idea or formula, arguably better in theory than in practice, repeated ad nauseum.