Anticodon Records (label)
11 May 2018 (released)
23 June 2018
“Don't call it a comeback!”, r&b duo Agency has never left! The prolific team has unleashed another entry into the pantheon of modern soul music. From their self-titled debut released at the start of last year, through the pointed, poignant and politically-charged RESIST to their latest release the Exponents EP, the group has consistently delivered a thoughtful, progressive message over, silky smooth r&b-based music. The duo has embraced the current zeitgeist of consistent content, never letting their fans go too long without some new material to sink their teeth in to. It's an era of Snapchat and mixtapes, no time to wait for pressings. Get it out there now, now, now. Unfortunately, this culture usually leads to the art being released with lazy, subpar music and no consistency to their message. These days, beats can be made quite quickly without the need for outside reference. Often because of this fact, the tracks lack direction and diversity. The formula for a trap beat, for example, is quite simple and a ton of rappers have built careers on taking these archetypal beats and filling them with their monotonous, cookie-cutter rhymes.
Agency has somehow managed to escape this fate, making the kind of quality r&b that used to take years to produce, in a few short months. The Exponents EP has a unified feel. From the album's main thematic trilogy 'Darkness', 'Moonlight', 'Daylight' to its cohesive, blooming production, Exponents feels anything but rushed. This “blooming” production brings to mind the ethos of the current indie pop/rock scene. The tracks have a fuzzy, nebulous warmth in the spirit of Radiohead's more electronic/ambient work and all the acts that have profited from that influence.
The EP opens with some arresting acapella that implies a distinct vulnerability. It opens up the listener for the album to follow. The rest of 'Darkness' is reconciliatory with vocalist Z looking back on the good times and expressing remorse for the bad. The group craft an ever-evolving soundscape that evolves from verbed-out guitar bliss to slick r&b beats to isolated xylophone harkening back to childhood feelings. The music perfectly reflects the relationships trajectory from the light innocent times through darkness and back.
'Is There Another Version of my Story?' is a sparse, middle of the night reflection. Simple warm keys back late night musings. This brief minute-long interlude turns this EP from a simple collection of songs into an album with an ebb and flow. 'Nothing Easy About Me' finishes the album on a similar inquisitive note. Shedding pride and ego to look inside one's self.
Agency's latest release is a breath of fresh air in a scene that far too often finds blame only in others for their problems. Exponents mantra of self-awareness is commendable. In addition, the music created, is beautiful and glowing yet shifts gears enough to keep you paying attention. Keep the records coming!