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No Rome returns with a sprawling selection of tracks on Blueboy Must Die

"Blueboy Must Die"

Release date: 08 September 2023
No Rome – Blueboy Must Die – Artwork
06 September 2023, 12:00 Written by Adele Julia

When Best Fit last spoke to No Rome, he declared himself free of the labelled restraints of genre. Indeed, it feels impossible to sum up the musical content on his new mixtape Blueboy Must Die succinctly – but perhaps this is precisely where its strengths lie.

The chosen format of a mixtape is consequently very fitting, as Rome crams musical explorations spanning from synth ballads to UK Garage into its seven tracks – and any more would be a sensory overload. Each piece feels diverse in its own right, from the cinematic opener "FULLMOONBABY," filled with distorted snippets of voicemails, to "97RAGER" with its breakbeat inspired by the electronic music of its eponymous decade.

Working with producer Chris Kurisu, Rome seems equally concerned with each track’s lyrical content as well as its sonics, and several conversations in the studio led to the album’s contemplations on fraternal compassion and support, materialising on tracks like "Brother." On the records’ lead single, Rome’s words are bolstered by layered harmonies and divergent melodies that endlessly intersect; its words of support accurate to Rome’s need to write something that shows love in a platonic way and being there for each other more.

However, this focus appears absent on tracks like "Elevator Music (OMG)," a song that is as lacking in originality as the name suggests, its repetitive chords beating on as Rome’s sentiments fade into obscurity. This feels miles away from the artist’s more experimental efforts of the past few years, including previous collaborations with the likes of Honey Dijon and The 1975 that remain firm highlights in his discography.

The innovative strides taken on previous projects do make a brief appearance on Blueboy, most notably its apex, "Deep Diving." What begins with a stripped-down solo acoustic, grows into a larger ensemble, using production masterfully to build tension in its final chorus. On the project’s penultimate track, Rome is on the precipice of an emotional breakthrough with someone, almost at the core of a discovery; "Talk about what makes you weak / Staying quiet just for courtesy." The brass ensemble imitates this feeling of apprehension, hesitantly growing in the chorus towards a climax that never arrives, returning to a sparse arrangement with Rome left solo once again.

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