EP Premiere: Izzy Spears’ ‘MONSTAR’

Written by Travis Shosa

Fresh off a European tour with collaborator Yves Tumor, Izzy Spears ebbs between blasé dissociation, tender vulnerability, disorienting eccentricity, and unhinged violence. The Atlanta-based artist—known for his involvement in Shayne Oliver’s (LEECH) Anonymous Club—set an abrasive tone early with singles “Bleedinout” and “Hollywood Meltdown.” He married glitched-out deconstructed club bangers with cantillations of “all these n***as are bleeding out, watch me now, watch me now” and muzzy synth hypnagogia with recollections of a bath salt bender. Spears is comfortable amid the chaos, and his Anonymous Club work is not wholly unindicative of the self-portrait he paints on his debut solo EP MONSTAR. But there is a shift, perhaps akin to that between Tyler, the Creator’s Odd Future output, and his post-Flower Boy material: honing the magnetic charisma that made Spears a compelling character and using it to fuel something more emotionally resonant.

That isn’t to say MONSTAR is exactly “heart-on-your-sleeve.” Spears filters his thoughts and feelings through abstraction and exaggeration, providing the pieces to his puzzle but refusing to hand over the solution. “I miss the old you / Fuck me like you used to,” Spears sweetly sings on the R&B-punk track “BAD NEWS” before declaring that he’s going to kill his boyfriend. On the surface, it’s horrorcore psychosis: enforced by the seedy video where Spears devours bloody meat and ties up his victim. But it’s a more likely lamentation of his perceived inability to be a stable partner, as he warns his lover that he’s bad news. Closer “FREAKS,” described by Spears as MONSTAR’s anthem and written in a single day with producer Duskdriven, sees Spears float his growls between a woozy banjo loop atop a throbbing bassline like the palpitations of a heart about to burst. An ode to the outsiders, it’s like if Obnox managed to grind a 7″ of Beck’s “Loser” and spit the chalky black wax into your eyes. A new age of nonconformist art is just over the horizon: kaleidoscopic visions of larger-than-life personas who dream big but refuse to bend to trend. MONSTAR affirms Izzy Spears as a prominent figure in that wave to come.

Video for “FIST”:

Video for “BAD NEWS”:

Video for “FREAKS”:

Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.

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