I loved RAC when I was eighteen – I listened to his Young Blood remix on SoundCloud over and over during my high school senior week (the US version of schoolies). That classic RAC-style bounce brings me right back to that first taste of freedom without my parents – perhaps too free, because that was the first time I ever tried Four Loko, which was awful and still makes me wince.
But gross alcohol aside (personal anecdotes, not so much), RAC’s album “BOY” couldn’t have come at a better time – I’m quarantining with my parents and back in my high school bedroom, so you could imagine my excitement at hearing “Rapariga” and feeling like a portal was opening back into 2015. “BOY” is dedicated to the nostalgia and awkwardness of growing up, taking all of that anxious, exhilarating energy and wrapping it into one wistful, pleasant album. You know that part of the movie where the main character stares out the window like they just realised something big, they smile softly, and then the camera fades to black for the credits to roll? That’s pretty much how I looked listening to this entire thing – and it unlocked some pretty delightful, albeit slightly cringe memories.
RAC isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel – he’s still using those same indie-electronica sounds we love, but giving them a fresh coat of paint to suit 2020. And right now with the state of our socially distanced world, I think that familiarity is quite comforting – songs like “Stuck on You” have that playful flow we know and love, while others like “Carefree” shake up that formula in inventive ways. Not to mention there’s a great blend of old and new features, from synth-pop classic St. Lucia to artists of newer fame like Louis the Child and Instupendo. That blend of old and new is really important to the album’s subject matter – youth is still youth and a good melody is still a good melody, and RAC’s attitude towards his childhood is thoughtful, relatable, and very much relevant even all these years later. I loved the anecdotal approach to songs like “Sweater,” with Maddie Jay singing of her crush on the mysterious indie boy in corduroy – I think we’ve all experienced that at some point (though my crush was less indie and way more lax bro – hah). RAC’s beat-making is charisma in song form – you can’t help but catch yourself caught in his refrains, smiling at a particular lyric or feeling the rush of a sound that brings you right back to a moment in time.
RAC always reminds me to look outside of myself – his work has a way of blending seamlessly into my everyday life without completely fading into the background. It did it in 2015, and it does it again now in 2020. While staring at the dog-eared photos taped to my childhood walls and listening to “Arcoíris,” I remembered my past with a little more vibrance and a little more color than usual – and wouldn’t you know, turns out “Arcoíris” means “rainbow” in Portuguese. I couldn’t get over how perfectly that fit, and I will never get over RAC’s consistent musical ingenuity.