26 Jul Review – After Spring by Riverays
I stumbled on Riverays when I listened to a song they submitted to Lucid Lemons. I don’t know much about them but I discovered that they’re based in Ukraine. I thoroughly THOROUGHLY enjoyed the song (it was my favorite submission that month) and so I kept my eye out for them. Then I saw an email from them about After Spring and I dropped everything (even my phone, and now theres a crack in the screen) to put it on. And let me just get ahead of myself and say that it was definitely worth it.
The titular track After Spring is up first and from the very first chord, it sets the mood of the whole project. The soft sine synth and the lite drums set this chill atmosphere that the vocals sit gingerly in. The melodies and delivery are full of surprises and never stay in one place too long, keeping your ears engaged. And the details! The harmonies, the subtle variations to the instrumental, the clean atmospheric mixing, everything goes down smoother than some Irish cream. Only problem I have with this song is that it doesn’t last another ten minutes haha.
Funky rhodes pianos and scatting lead us into the next song Come On. The female vocals over the boom bap style drums conjure images of palm trees and warm beaches in my head. Once again, the marriage of unique delivery and melody pull you into the mood they’re setting. The instrumental stays simple and lets the writing and singing do all the work. And they do it so so well. And that female singer, wow. I wish I could be more articulate but so far, the songs have just wowed something inside me in a way that I haven’t had a Nigerian artist do in a while.
Melanin begins with smooth latin percussions and a simple chord progression. Island scenes and ocean breeze come to mind before the drums jump in. A fat Timberland-esque kick and warm pop claps form the base of a very laid-back rap song. The interspersed group vocals and ad-libs slide in and out beautifully. The lyrics are well-delivered and I found them stuck in my head after only one listen. THE MIXING ON THIS is just.. man.
Sun Jive has chords that remind me of chill electronic and lo-fi music. The drums give it a bit more energy and Riverays jump in with what I’ve now realized is their style- rap-sung poetic lyrics, interspersed with side melodies, group ad-libs and sung breaks. The delivery is so diverse I can’t even be sure how many people are actually on the track.
The final song is Bottle Tunes and it sounded a bit out of place to me. Not that its a bad song by any stretch of the imagination but it feels like it has a very different vibe to the rest of the project, like it was produced by a different person or in a different head space. The song is still a good one and is a fine closer to the short EP but I think I would have left it off, as it deviates from the solid cohesive sonic direction the rest of the EP had.
TL;DR: After Spring came as an amazing surprise to me. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I absolutely loved what I got. This is how you make a statement with a debut project. Riverays is a deep breath of cool fresh air in a time where fresh air is very welcome and becoming more and more available. I would never have guessed they were Nigerian if you didn’t tell me and this is a good thing here. This project reminds me that good production does not need to be complex. The beats are simple but the mood is so clear and the vibe is contagious. The standout to me is the versatility of Riverays. Their delivery and melodies deserve to be written home about (and here I am, doing just that). They keep it so varied, so fresh, so exciting and unpredictable that even after multiple listens, I’m still a bit surprised each time. The lyrics are catchy, well thought out and very relatable. The synergy they have with each other and with the instrumentals is second to few. And then there’s the engineering, which often lets down many newcomers and first-timers. That isn’t the case here as every single track is masterfully worked, every sound is clear and clean. Every mixing choice works for me and elevates the songs beyond just sounding good musically. There is a polish, class, and skill that shines through every aspect of this EP and I am thoroughly in love with it. So now, while I rinse this project repeatedly, I wait with bated breath for whatever Riverays does next.
Want to join me in waiting? Think I might have overhyped the project? Listen below and let me know what you think!
Favorite Tracks: After Spring & Melanin
Least Favorite Track: Bottle Tunes