Alternative Pop musician, Allocai, has graced his listeners with two distinct albums since the advent of his musical career. The artist’s first album, Cruelty, demonstrated the artist’s ability to tap into raw and visceral emotions through lyricality. Black Silver, however, is somewhat of a departure from the first album. Allocai harnesses the power of Cruelty by utilizing some of what made it popular: genre bending, evocation, and storytelling. However, out of these three components, Allocai is known for his storytelling capabilities that can, and are, used for healing – both personal, and vicarious.
Narrative and Storytelling in Music
A journal studying the metanarratives and aspects of storytelling in contemporary music found that, “fan communities demand constant activity, regular interaction and, ultimately, content. This is where transmedia storytelling and metanarratives become necessary for artists.” This illustrates that fans and music lovers are not only looking for storytelling and narrative through an artist’s music, but also through their participation online. In many ways, artists are implored to engage in metanarratives across all spectrums of their visibility. However, the driving force behind an artist’s capability to impart narrative, is their ability to express and invoke storytelling with their music. The artist’s presence online, though, is often in harmony and amplification of the storytelling that occurs in their music.
Another author argues that, “music has not been credited with the recognition it deserves regarding the way it can heal people, specifically with storytelling through music working as a cultural immunogen.” The author expands on this to say, “there are various scholars that address how multi-faceted music can be as an instrument of remedy through therapy and education, yet there is a lack of acknowledgement within storytelling and how musicians heal communities.” Whilst storytelling and narrative amongst contemporary musicians has been regarded as a compelling way to captivate listeners, it is also an act of healing for both artists and their listeners. When artists choose to bare their soul, they are not only doing so for themselves, but thousands of others that share that narrative and experience.
From Cruelty to Black Silver
Allocai’s first album, Cruelty, had a discernible edge to it. The album was raw, visceral, and deeply honest. For the musician, the album was a way to explore his personal narrative and express hard, and often harsh, truths. Cruelty introduced the world to Allocai’s eclectic, genre bending, and unique sound. Additionally, the frankness of the album, and the way that the artist was able to exhibit his vulnerability, appealed to many music lovers. While the album has a dark tone, it is clear that light and hope are intermingled into the lyrics and sound. In an interview with Allocai, the artist states that, with Cruelty, “I was learning and honing in on my process.” The wildness of the album is intentional, but also an illustration of unadulterated musical exploration.
The most popular song from Cruelty, ‘Cloud 9,’ intrigued fans through its meshing of rock, pop, R&B, and the blues. Allocai was able to successfully integrate and envelope his influences into one cohesive and dynamic sound. ‘Cloud 9’ amassed well over a million listens on Spotify. Its accompanying music video – Allocai’s first – has also accrued nearly 2 million views. The song’s lyrics introduce a tangible sense of anxiety. The introduction explores an implicit narrative of substance issues and deep depression, however, the lyrics move into a powerful and hopeful space where the artist is able to leave the darkness. The music video captures the essence of this through its strong usage of color and movement. Blues and yellows move into pinks in an almost psychedelic fashion. Movement and dance are integral to the video, as characters rhymically move in a hypnotic trance. Interestingly, the video adopts fantastical and fairytale elements to invoke the lyrics.
Black Silver captures the raw honesty and authenticity of Cruelty, but evolves to reflect a matured artist. The album, with consistency to the artist’s style, blends genres and creates singular sounds. One thing is profoundly clear: this artist cannot be defined by labels, nor by genres. Black Silver is tighter than Cruelty, and documents an evolution in the artist’s style. Allocai notes that the album was created during the pandemic, and was innovated through intimacy and isolation. The artist had the time, space, and focus to develop musical art that was both reflective of his new narrative, and his journey to his intrinsic sound. Through this, the musician was able to master his craft and process. Allocai argues that his period of isolation allowed him to, “focus on my own internal feelings, and how to bring those feelings to life and express them sonically.” This process is felt by the listener, as the artist is able to express and evoke deep emotion through the lyricality of his music, and the sound.
Allocai has been successful across his two albums in exploring both narrative and storytelling, and these aspects have been expanded on in the artist’s music videos. Whilst Cruelty is praised for its rawness, authenticity, and visceral emotion, Black Silver has been able to represent a matured sound that still harnesses the artist’s ability to capture emotion. The latest album is a reflection of Allocai’s growth as both a person and an artist, but also expands on the artist’s ability to cross genres, build on aesthetics, and replicate true intimacy.