Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Serpentwithfeet ruminates across GRIP's dancefloor

Release date: 16 February 2024
Serpentwithfeet GRIP cover
15 February 2024, 15:00 Written by Noah Barker

Entwined within GRIP, Josiah Wise’s third record under the moniker Serpentwithfeet, is an anxiety only a dancefloor could conjure up: “Are they just dancing, or do they love me?”

Broadened, this sentiment is representative of GRIP, from its delicate yet same-y ballads to its spectral, if familiar grooves; is this Serpentwithfeet at his most surface level and direct, or is he simply using club aesthetics for some greater enlightenment? The answer is a sideways squint, a shrug, and a professionally worded way of saying the opener and lead single “Damn Gloves” is uproariously fun. The point will sail past like it’s a cruise ship with broken navigation.

For a record fixated on intention and intimacy, GRIP is held far behind makeshift walls of raves, Jersey club beats, and moments of inorganic beauty. Evocative of last year’s stellar Fountain Baby by Amaarae, tracks like “Safe Word” are a polite introduction of global influences, rather than the former’s eclectic domination. Wise’s delicate, sumptuous croon may float angelically among nameless string plucks and off-kilter rhythms, but the impact runs equally as featherweight. The stars seemed from the outset to be aligning so that GRIP could be his Caprisongs or Renaissance: a record of relief and straight-forward hits after a previously confessional record. However, Wise and co. mistake the breeziness of tone those records emulate for the mindset of its creation. GRIP is stylish and moving, yet lacks a sense of provocation.

Balancing this absence of purpose is an entrance into the hallowed halls of “Good-while-it-is-on,” perhaps ascending to middle manager of “Great-while-it-lasts.” The staying power of the record is as ephemeral as the euphoria it searches for; how much of either we find is closely related to where the nearest dancefloor is. Atmospheric and not the least bit underpinned by a socially acceptable amount of sinister sadness, GRIP demands a time and place for its existence. Whether Wise is bringing the club to the listener or suggesting a moment of bedroom intimacy is equally as fitting depends on the track. The high is there, the high is gone, there are those we cherish and those we lose. Life goes on.

What Wise forfeits in keeping GRIP a lean experience (both in terms of time and depth) should not draw anyone into hysterics; previous release Deacon presented a biblical mountain of emotional depth from a singular voice and this personality and vision is still present. However, what position in time does GRIP fulfil for Serpentwithfeet? Again, the answer is a squint and a shrug, and a look at a cruise ship signalling that the better question would be if the record succeeds in what only it wants, which it does. If given the chance, it may groove you to tears, if only for a moment of great release; and the point has hit the harbour.

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