If you take away only one thing from this entire article, let it be this — you are going to LOVE this album. I say this with the confidence of a straight white man. I don’t care what kind of music you like or don’t like, whether you’re a ska-loving punk, a bleeding-heart indie or a hair-twirling-lollipop-licking-platform-wearing pop princess… somehow the newest album by Delray Beach, Florida-based Artikal Sound System (affectionately known as A.S.S. to their loyal fanbase), Welcome To Florida, bridges all of those genres — and does it fantastically well.
You will listen to this album over and over and over again, I promise.
Lyrically, Welcome To Florida is the proverbial cup of hot tea in more ways than one: it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, and is also chock-full of juicy hot takes. Track number six, titled “Spiritual Broadcaster” (featuring The Elovaters), broaches a subject everyone thinks, yet no one talks about and facilitates a dialogue ripe for discussion. “You can say that you lost all your ego // It’s looking pretty healthy to me though,” lead singer Logan Rex critically croons in her wildly versatile mezzo-soprano.
I asked Logan during our short phone interview if she meant to call out so many people (like two) and what contributed to her mildly risky decision of blazing such a bold trail of words. She replied, “The body of work we’ve had up until this point has had a pretty lighthearted and genuinely positive vibe. And, thinking about the place I was in when I wrote this album, writing it during a pandemic, I was in a relationship for 10 years and things went sour, obviously. I felt like I just really wanted to share my heart and share something I was actually feeling. It wasn’t on my mind to write these broad, sweeping, general, everybody-feel-good-and-hug-each-other, good-vibes-everywhere-you-go kinda songs. I was like, ‘Oh, I hope people don’t think I’m being a Negative Nancy’. But, I also think it’s important to look at both sides; l can’t enjoy all the happiness without having lifted myself out of the dark spots, as well.”
We appreciate the realness and honesty, Logan.
Also appreciated was the heavy 90s vibes. From the funky, skunky, Tragic Kingdom-era No Doubt-inspired “Cops and Robbers” to the top-down PCH cruising, Butterfly generation Mariah Carey-esque “Pull Me Close”, Welcome To Florida delivers those best-decade-ever vibes right on time. I was both enthralled and curious about the 90s-influenced origin story of their first full-length album, produced by Chris Montague, the band and the legendary Danny Kalb.
“What was the musical inspiration for this album or what were you personally listening to while ‘Welcome to Florida’ was being written?” I asked of Logan. She replied, “I listen to a lot of bedroom pop and R&B, especially while I was writing these songs. I thought it would be interesting to incorporate more of a hip hop element… almost? At least with the drums. This is the first time we used drum samples and then Adam [Kampf] drummed over them. This helped give us a more modern sound, but still kept the tracks breathing with the live-band feel.”
Drum samples aside, Artikal Sound System also borrowed from R&B a deeply intimate, emotional and truthful portrayal of the reality of a breakup. “I won’t call it regret // Cause I’m not that far out, yet // And, there’s no going back // At least not with my pride intact,” Logan laments in the opening track, “Stayed”. The chorus of “Stayed”, punctuated with stabby synth, reminds us that breakups aren’t clean, nor absolute, but a living and breathing wave of change that must be ridden with ease, even if you’ve already dropped the “You’re An Asshole” bomb, as Logan does in track number 10.
Going through a breakup? Listen to Welcome To Florida. Love the 90s? Listen to Welcome To Florida. Need a new favorite song to play on repeat 34,793 times? Well, you get the idea.
Purchase or stream ‘Welcome To Florida’ album:
- One With You, feat. DUBBEST
- Too Soon
- When I Wanna, feat. Little Stranger
- Spiritual Broadcaster, feat. The Elovaters
- Cops and Robbers
- Pull Me Close
- You’re Not There
- You’re An Asshole
- Bald Tires
Artikal Sounds System – “Spiritual Broadcaster” (feat. The Elovaters)
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.