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

Velvet Negroni's Bulli is a frustratingly muted affair


Release date: 13 January 2023
Velvet Negroni Bulli Album Artwork
13 January 2023, 10:00 Written by Joe Creely

Velvet Negroni has a talent for interesting sounds, but on his latest offering Bulli he doesn’t manage to shepherd them into interesting songs often enough.

Velvet Negroni’s personal story often takes up more column inches than his music, something that in the past has seemed a little unfair given his music is often a stranger, more relevant story to tell. However, here on his new record, the gift for genre synthesis and melodic capability seem to desert him, instead leaving a record that never quite finds itself.

Compared to his previous works under this moniker, particularly 2019’s Neon Brown, Bulli is a far more muted affair. Leaning into the influence of R&B he delivers most of the album somewhere between a whisper and barely there singing, which, no matter the musical arrangement, brings the energy down to low level. Sometimes this works to interesting effect, particularly on "Animal" in which the cyclic clack of percussion and reverb drenched keyboard chords are held taut by his restraint. That said, this restraint brings a uniformity to proceedings, and the songs begin to struggle to maintain much individual identity.

This struggle for the songs to develop their own personality makes itself felt in the sonics as well. It’s odd, because the instrumentation is almost ostentatiously varied. There’s elements of swaggering funk, muted alt-rock and fidgety electronica across the tracks. However, this looseness with genre can be a difficult thing to manage, and Bulli at points feel like very similar songs only differentiated by their minute, genre-specific flourish, be it the stomping funk baseline on "Shiny," or the gently chugging indie rock guitar on "Georgia." Ultimately great swathes of the record end with the same atmosphere; one of wounded but delicate optimism coming from a cramped basement space, but without the level of hooks or lyrics to carry it off.

It’s a shame, because when he breaks out of that mould and fully commits to a song they really work. "Ballad Smaller," with it’s jittery, pops of percussion and glitchy synth lines has a genuine mutant funk charisma to it, and his voice really works in this context, shifting between a vulnerable croon and double-time rapping. Similarly, "Sinker" works because it breaks away from the rest of the record. Choppy guitars and a heightened, more energetic vocal performance give a momentum and direction to the song that isn’t present for so much of the rest of the record.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next