Exeter, Devon UK • May 24, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Music Album Review: Lil Nas X – MONTERO

Album Review: Lil Nas X – MONTERO

Aran Grover reviews Lil Nas X's debut album, Montero.
5 mins read
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Album Review: Lil Nas X – MONTERO

Source: Lil Nas X Vevo – Youtube

Aran Grover reviews Lil Nas X’s debut album, Montero.

The eagerly anticipated debut album from viral pop sensation Lil Nas X is upon us. After an ingenious marketing strategy involving a faux pregnancy, a string of number 1 singles, and Lil Nas X’s overt awareness of popular internet culture, comedy, and sharp TikTok witticisms. Lil Nas X proves to us that he is more than a one hit wonder with a potential to dominate the pop scene this decade.

The album begins with the titular smash hit, ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’, though this track needs no introduction, it serves as a fantastic one to this record. The next few tracks blend into a typical trap-inspired pop crossover with big horn samples, sounding straight out of a baseball movie. These litter the record and to me, sound derivative, without much replay value. While the instrumentals may be bland and generic, some of the features do stand out. Megan Thee Stallion’s verse is charismatic, funny, and has a great flow. I also unexpectedly enjoyed the Miley Cyrus feature, however was a little underwhelmed by Elton John’s feature, expecting him to sing. Jack Harlow and Doja Cat were decent inclusions, but again I was less than enamoured with these ones.

Lil Nas uses pop lyrical convention to talk about his queer identity, rerouting a heterosexual narrative for a progressive, new take on sexual power and bodily ownership

Some of the better tracks however are those which use less conventional (for pop music) sounds, drawing from Spanish guitar, rock music, and EDM. One of my favourites was ‘LOST IN THE CITADEL’, which has a smooth-toned electronic bassline as well as a fast-paced electronic rhythm and echoey stadium rock-style guitars fitted in a modern context. ‘SUN GOES DOWN’, sounds similar to tracks on Slowthai’s latest project and is far more interesting and unique, as opposed to the commercial trap sounds of the first half. He takes a more low-key approach with the second half, including some more emotional tracks like ‘VOID’, which sounds almost Frank-Ocean-inspired with some plucky guitars and vocal lines reminiscent of Blonde.

Another of my favourites was ‘LIFE AFTER SALEM’, which starts with dark guitar chords then drums and further distorted guitar lines, which sound like Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug at points, as well as some catchy and powerful vocals. This track proves Lil Nas X can weave his way through a gamut of musical aesthetics and demonstrates some real genre crossover potential in the future. Personally I would love for him to carry this aesthetic through to his next projects over the relatively bland pop-trap blend that litters the charts at the moment.

Though I prefer the sounds of the second half, some of the tracks still feel samey, a lot of them use similarly low-key guitars, opting for a more emotional approach. However, Lil Nas uses pop lyrical convention to talk about his queer identity, rerouting a heterosexual narrative for a progressive, new take on sexual power and bodily ownership, never seen or celebrated on this scale in pop music. It is so refreshing to see someone at this level of success be themselves entirely, and for a man’s body to be celebrated and sexualised in a similar way to women in all culture.

Lil Nas X, regardless of opinion on his music, will be the face of a new era of pop music, hopefully one that champions self-love and acceptance. While some of this album is a little dull at points and some of the songs don’t really stick out, it stands as a fantastic statement of being from a new artist who is on the way to conquer the charts and the pop culture zeitgeist for many years to come, demonstrating a violent individualism in a sea of mediocrity and clones, whilst also having a few great, memorable musical moments.

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