Ah, friendship. For many, it means calling each other on the phone to complain. For long-time friends (and collaborators) HTML Flowers and Oscar Key Sung, friendship means producing an oft-experimental hip-hop project as Lossless (formerly Brothers Hand Mirror). Former enemies turned friends, together they have produced an album that is as weird as it is wonderful, and is sure to sit amongst some of the best end-of-year listening.
The album gives a glimpse into the role of the two collaborators within the project from the very first song, Where I Came From. Oscar Key Sung’s breezy, auto-tuned vocals form the backbone of the track, with HTML Flowers flowing over the top, with his rapid-fire, slightly auto-tuned vocals, with auto-tune forming a large part of not only this album, but the evolution of their sound from Brothers Hand Mirror to Lossless.
Full Raichu is (in my humble opinion) the best song to come out about Pokémon this year. Snorlax, Jigglypuff, and of course Raichu all get name-dropped, as HTML Flowers takes centre-stage on this track, spitting with almost as much electricity as Raichu (but really, Pikachu was everyone’s favourite). The album slows down after the frenetic start, with Multiples and Rain Lung getting more introspective. An oft-covered topic in HTML Flowers’ solo output, and a topic that comes up multiple times on this album, is his battle with chronic illness, and it provides a dichotomy between the almost-braggadocio nature of the opening tracks, and the later songs on the album.
In the past, the pair very much stuck to their own aspects of the collaboration, with Oscar Key Sung handling all the production for Brothers Hand Mirror, and HTML Flowers taking care of all the rapping. With the pair taking a more organic and intertwined approach to all aspects of the album, a more organic, and ultimately, more enjoyable product has emerged (however, Brothers Hand Mirror still remains one of the most underrated lo-fi hip-hop projects to come from Australia).
The use of auto-tune is peppered throughout the album, evident also in Selfie On The Toilet. The use of auto-tune demonstrates a newfound confidence from the pair to shift between experimental and more traditional song structures, something they consciously avoided in the past. This means the album is never in danger of losing sight of itself, despite the disparate nature of specific tracks from the album. It requires a deft touch to be able to make Lorica Plumata and My Clique (the 2nd single from the album) make sense on the same record, but they make it work, with My Clique proving one of the highlights.
It is a testament to the understanding that Lossless have that their respective vocals never seem out of place, with Oscar Key Sung, in particular, knowing when to take a back seat. This, however, doesn’t mean he isn’t equally represented on the album, with closer Constant Pursuit not only a summary of what Lossless are aiming for, but a mantra. In a time where some artists stagnate, Lossless show that they are equally as strong together as they are apart, with both Oscar Key Sung and HTML Flowers achieving many successes in their solo careers since we last heard from Brothers Hand Mirror. As we go into summer, we need albums that can soundtrack both a lazy day, as well as a jam-packed one, and Lossless have released an album for any occasion.
‘Lossless’ is out today. Grab a copy here.