The musician glaive holds nothing back in his lyrics — usually, at his own expense. Just look at the lyrics to “Life Is Pain,” which he called the “first song i’ve ever been proud of :)” when he dropped it on SoundCloud last May: “I keep getting stabbed inside the back, it’s getting really hard.” “You’ve always wanted less, I’ve always wanted more / I would try to explain but I’m always ignored.” “You didn’t care when I was down bad and hurtin’ / It makes me so sad ‘cause all my friends are perfect.” The bubbling hyperpop scene, built around a Spotify playlist of DIY pop indebted to A.G. Cook and 100 gecs, is to thank for glaive’s breakneck rise, which saw the then-15-year-old (born Ash Gutierrez) release an EP on Interscope last fall after racking up streams. But listen to his songs and you’ll hear glaive clearly positioning himself as the next step in an emo lineage that spans from early rockers like American Football all the way up to rappers like Lil Peep. The constant thread? Those painfully honest words.
Glaive’s new song “cloak n dagger,” released January 21 to celebrate his 16th birthday the day before, turns his poison tongue outward for another cornerstone of emo music: an unrelenting fuck-you smash. From breakup anthems like All American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell” to more targeted fare like Taking Back Sunday’s “There’s No ‘I’ in Team,” they’ve provided decades of catharsis for both performers and listeners. Unlike those songs, “cloak n dagger” sounds to be more generally about kicking a toxic person out of your life, but the specifics are almost beside the point. Because like many of the best of these songs, “cloak n dagger” doesn’t let anger drag it down — it’s buoyant, hooky, and endlessly listenable.
Glaive made “cloak n dagger” and its music video with friend and fellow hyperpop musician ericdoa “entirely in one day,” according to a note at the beginning of the video. The song sounds like that in all the best ways. The woozy beat runs side-by-side with the contrasting verses: glaive’s delivered in a gloomy slur, eric’s full of hip-hop swagger. But the chorus is the reason to come back. It’s delivered in a fit of rage, with glaive’s voice cracking on one of the lines as if to prove it. Hearing him and eric savor every curse and insult will just make you want to shout along with them.
Glaive has always bristled at being called a “hyperpop” musician. “I feel like hyperpop is not a genre,” he said plainly in a New York Times story on the Spotify playlist. Maybe a song like “cloak n dagger” backs his claim, riding on generations of emo musicians. Or maybe it’s proof of the exciting possibilities under the umbrella of a young genre like hyperpop. (When it was released on January 21, “cloak n dagger” got glaive and ericdoa on the cover of the Spotify playlist, whether they liked it or not.) Glaive is young and still figuring this out too; a press release for “cloak n dagger” describes his music as “genre-curious” rather than giving it a label. And if the products are going to be this impressive, why not keep exploring?
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