Bar Exam: Mogli The Iceburg – Let’s Talk About Our Feelings (Album)
A One Listen Review
Mogli the Iceburg is an incredibly versatile artist who seems to be in tune with his emotions. I reviewed his EP “Sad People Make Dope Music” in April, and now he’s back with another great title “Let’s Talk About Our Feelings.” This one is a full length project, sitting at thirteen tracks. The cover art is evocative, a shaft of light coming through window blinds casting odd shaped beams onto Mogli’s figure. I didn’t even notice the title in small letters at first glance. Today is my first listen of this new project, and my notes are below.
I geek out about music, so my first listen has no rules. It’s more fun that way. I may pause to use Google (or to use the restroom.) I may jump the track back to hear a line again. This is how I listen to an album for the first time. Setting up rules for that doesn’t sound fun. At the end however I’ll let you know if the album is better than most (above the bar), status quo (at the bar), or could have been better (below the bar). Here we go.
“Somehow We’ll Be Okay” fades in with some synth and then some icy guitars swell in over the top. A Chorus is sung. It sounds like an emo band’s last Chorus of their set. “Somehow someway we’ll all be okay.” This track sits under two minutes and there’s already some emotion being tapped into here… Tribe on the move…
“I Don’t Need You Up In My Face Rn” – A quick fade into a catchy hook. The beat is big, and Mogli comes in with a captivating melody. He’s able to take the shine off of his voice by digging into the vocals a bit. Jerry Manna stops by for a melody too. The landscape of this instrumental is interesting, there are some thick accordion-like synths right in the middle of the mix gluing this all together.
“See Me As I Am” begins with a guitar riff, and we’re introduced to the Chorus thereafter. Mogli’s vocals are intense. It sounds great. The melodies so far are dope, and when paired with hip hop beats I think I like them even more. There’s definitely some post-hardcore/progressive rock influences to this. I’m reminded of The Used, Taking Back Sunday, or Underoath as I listen to this. It’s interesting, because the popular melodic rappers of the day don’t necessarily garner inspiration or style from bands such as these. The way Mogli closed out “Sad People Make Dope Music” must have just stayed with me. Nobigdyl lends a verse here too. So far it’s all melodies, but it’s easy to listen to.
“Some Will Stay, Most Won’t” – This is a guitar interlude. Mainly clean channel, and a nice riff. I don’t really know how to critique interludes, so I’ll move along.
“Idk” – The first verse here is a pause-heavy melodic flow that grows with momentum as the song progresses. Mogli throws in some punchlines throughout. Jet Trouble’s verse here is nice. It’s all held together by a really strong Chorus.
“All this time spent by myself and I got nowhere to be/We tread too closely to that line and she asked me what are we/I don’t want you to leave right now and I’m not sure I can stay/She asked me if it’s real or not and I don’t know what to say”
The pacing of this album has been great so far. I love it when an artist knows what they have, doesn’t feel like he needs to add anymore to a song, and moves to the next one quickly.
“I’m Not Alright” – Once again, guitars are the base of this music bed. We start out with some low chords and a fast paced hi-hat. The formula for these songs seems to be similar. It sounds like the Chorus is right here at the top once again. The topics are all congruent with each other as well. Mogli’s venting about the difficulties of relationships. The connection he feels or doesn’t feel, the doubts, the passion, and the hurt. It all gets released really well. These thoughts and emotions are articulated as if they’re radiating from him as he performs these songs. “I’m not I’m not I’m not alright”
“Blackonblackonblackonblack” – This one is a fun song about wearing black. All black everything. There’s a big and deep brass swell into each Chorus “bwwwaaaaa bwaaaaa” and the kick drum switches from the left to the right channel in the speakers throughout. Again if this track was any longer I’d be napping, but it’s just as long as it needs to be, you get the idea, and when you’re ready to move along so is Mogli. #PacingOnPoint
“Can’t touch the tribe we never die we multiply.”
“Let’s Talk About Our Feelings” – Thunder cracks, rain pours and an acoustic guitar drops by for the title track. There’s some tension created here, as two riffs are played alongside each other, and in a minor key. The rain stops as the guitar soloing intensifies. Another interlude.
“Empty Apartment” – “Call me out you stayed inside/Wanted love I swear you hide/Shot me down as I flew by/Crashed and burned I think sometimes/You forget where the heart is” Some ambient synths lay a nice bed behind this emotional performance as the beat filters in. He’s lacing the track with thoughts about a broken heart, opening up about anger and loneliness. This is probably the most chilled out vibe so far on this project, so of course the cherry on top is some screaming. Terrific.
“Wide Awake” – Deep dirty guitars underneath a Chorus at the top. The beat comes in and it’s knockin hard. As much as I dig the layers of the music on this track, I’m beginning to lose energy. I’m probably in a bit of a slump as this song winds down. A lot of these songs are formulaic and are structured the same way. I think my ears are ready for something to switch up.
“Let’s Call It Off” – Some really wet guitars lead us into a Chorus. Mogli’s verse here is fast paced but he’s still relaxed. One more Chorus, and then we’re in an outro/interlude moment. Mogli is explaining feelings of pain and lands on the idea that we need to trust our feelings. #deepthoughtswithMogli
“Honest Conversations” – Guitars (bass guitars?) bring us into the first verse. The texture of the guitar changes from the deep bass-is sound to acoustic guitars. Did I just accidentally pop in Dashboard Confessional? The momentum here is great, the song picks up musically as he digs in vocally. It’s anthemic and emotional all at once. The melody makes it sound hopeful while the lyrics are deep and tug at the heart.
“I don’t wanna die right now” – I remember when this track came out. The artwork is the infamous last photo of Tupac in the passenger seat of Suge Knight’s BMW, except Mogli is superimposed over Pac. The look in his eyes is one of uncertainty and it’s a pretty great depiction considering the title of the song. Musically the beat here is big, the concept here is hopeful and upbeat. “My life is pretty rad” After all that Mogli has shared on this project, he still arrives at the conclusion that it’s time to get over the past and move on, there’s more to live for.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard an album quite like this. What I would call alternative hip-hop usually wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but here we are. I don’t think there’s anything Mogli can’t do. This is a deviation from the norm, even for him. He’s had these influences present in his music before, but on “Let’s Talk About Our Feelings” he took a deep dive. What we witness here is an intricately crafted canvas of emotion and candor. Legitimately each song was cut from the same mold, but the journey we’re taken on is rough around the edges in a beautiful way. I’m not sure what the average hip-hop head would think about this album, but what speaks to me here is the risk that was taken to put something together like this. The thing is that he pulled it off. He does this vibe really well, and I’m not sure that anyone I’ve covered at newh2o so far has the guts or the chops it would take to match Mogli’s work here. I think this is new territory for CHH, a new way to tap into the heart — of the artist as well as the listener. This album isn’t perfect, there’s a slump towards the end and most of the music sounds the same (something I had trouble with on “Sad People…”) With all other things considered though I think it’s better than most.