Black Grapefruit’s experimental, nostalgic release – ‘Fade/Forget’ – is an album for pop-loving, soul-searching listeners who want to be both rattled and respected while dancing along to an eclectic soundtrack. Electronic duo Randa Smith and Brian Dekker have hopped from Portland to NYC to a small upstate NY town over the years, and after hearing this album, you can tell they’ve experienced change in some of its most overwhelming, isolating forms. But despite the moves and bouts of self-discovery, Black Grapefruit is here to share what they’ve learned now that they’ve found a home within themselves and not just in a physical space. Radiating confidence on tracks like ‘Forget’ and ‘Quartz,’ this album encompasses how you feel when you think you’ve found yourself (and then remember you never fully do) through spiritual choruses, vocal punches, and layers of funky accents that tie the whole production together.
‘Fade,’ the album’s opening track, comes crashing through in an explosion of sound, demanding your attention with overlapping melodies, voices that fade in and fade out, and an eerie twang that convinces you to stick around for the next song. ‘Fade/Forget’ is no doubt a pop album, but it strips away all the commercialism around self-love and acceptance and kindness and leaves behind easy listening for the raw, vulnerable stuff that’s actually worthwhile. It’s inventive, unprecedented groove shines on tracks like “0122,” throwing away the traditional rules of its genre and setting a high bar for creativity that’s all its own. Whether you’re running from something or finally staying put, this song, like all the others, is strong – even if Randa and Brian admit uncertainty in their lyrics, you can tell they find stability through their art.
While the first two tracks of ‘Fade/Forget’ project spirit and tenacity, songs in the middle like “Crypt Keeper” take us a step back – even when you’re feeling yourself, nostalgia still comes creeping in and the past doesn’t just disappear. In a similar vein, I’ve thought a lot about the sole lyric of “Gospels” and how it really punches you in the gut – Randa demands to know: “How many people have fallen out of love with you?” And just as quickly as people fall in and out of love, the next song starts with Black Grapefruit encouraging us to let go and move forward – because life goes on, no? In true pop fashion, the album marches on with rich harmonies and a solid beat to boot, and the cyclical patterns of love and relationships repeat.
There’s a lot of talent displayed in this album, talent you can tell Black Grapefruit shares with the world out of passion, not because they owe it to anybody. It’s an experimental album that promotes mindfulness and makes loneliness feel…well, a little less lonely. “In Case You’re Listening” ends with the sentiment of the things we wish we could say, but never will – and that’s not a bad thing. When we’re left alone with ourselves, ‘Fade/Forget’ serves as a reminder of all the progress we’ve made and prepares us for the transitions we’ll experience moving forward – even if we don’t get to say what we mean, even when we make mistakes with other people involved, we’re worthy of acceptance.