“Psykos”: A much welcomed left turn from long time collaborators

Bladee and Yung Lean have worked together for the better half of a decade, but for some reason have never released an album together. “Psykos” is a delightful listen for any who enjoy post-punk music and existential thought.
The cover art for Psykos features an introspective frog near a dark alleyway, which  could relate to the albums themes of longing and surrealism (Photo courtesy of Rate Your Music).
The cover art for ‘Psykos” features an introspective frog near a dark alleyway, which could relate to the album’s themes of longing and surrealism (Photo courtesy of Rate Your Music).

 

 

Cloud rap extraordinaires Bladee and Yung Lean released their unexpected yet highly anticipated collaborative album “Psykos” on March 13 to great acclaim. 

Over the past two or so years, both Bladee and Yung Lean have been at an interesting place in their careers, both involving a great transition in terms of music style, ultimately diverging away from their previous style filled with glossy beats, and heavily autotuned hip hop music that defined the Swedish artists’ career in the 2010s. 

In the 2020s both Bladee and Lean had been seen to gravitate a lot more towards an experimental pop sound, with Yung Lean’s 2020 album “Starz” and 2021 mix-tape “Stardust” showcasing a sound that was a lot more bright and optimistic compared to his past of braggadocious and depressive lyrics. The same could be said for Bladee, who has flourished through the current decade also distancing from those same themes. Projects like “The Fool” and “Crest” showcased Bladee’s newfound silliness and spiritual rebirth as both an artist and a human being.

“Psykos” completely reverses both artists’ newfound lust for life in the 2020s, bringing back the depressive braggadocious lyrics, though this time with a little more existential dread and an entirely new genre; post-punk. 

The album was first teased almost a year ago in April 2024, where rather subtly, Lean’s girlfriend posted a photo of Lean with a jacket that had the word “Psykos” inscribed on its back. 

For around almost a year after, there was radio silence surrounding the project. All until March 8 when a user on the Reddit forum “r/sadboys”, a community dedicated to everything surrounding Bladee and Yung Lean, seemingly leaked the tracklist and album cover to many fans disbelief. The album was later confirmed by its producers’ Palmistry and silent$ky.

Yung Lean formally announced “Psykos” on March 12 and the album finally released on March 13. 

“Psykos” showcases just how far the Swedish duo has come from their Soundcloud rap days. Both Bladee and Lean have a completely different outlook on life as they did ten years ago and this album might just be the culmination of each artist’s creative journey. While short in runtime, the album speaks greatly to Bladee and Lean’s versatility in practically every genre. 

The project is shockingly introspective and layered, an unusual feat for both artists, who’s lyrics often feel like an additional instrument rather than anything with lyrical depth. Even the title of the album could be interpreted in that with said depth, as the project’s title “Psykos” translates from Swedish to English as the word psychosis, a disorder that Lean has suffered from in the past

Songs like the spoken word intro track “Coda” displays both artists’ loss of hope in humanity and a longing for better times, though backpedaling on their thoughts frequently after said statements. Lean’s line, “The world needs more color and love, but what do I know?,” being a clear example of their thought process. Lamenting the fact that human nature is ever changing and an overall recognition of their insignificance in the wider scope of the world; an existentialist theme that resonates with many. 

There are also countless biblical allusions throughout the project as seen with the track “Hanging From The Bridge,” where Bladee sings, “Commit a fruitless crime to win a stupid prize” only to refer to Judas a line later. Judas famously betrayed Jesus, accepting a mere thirty silver coins to lead Jesus to his crucifixion. In this situation the stupid prize represents the minuscule reward Judas received for his betrayal and the fruitless crime being Jesus’ death, as his crucifixion only strengthened his followers belief in him and essentially killed Judas; hence the fruitlessness.

Courtesy of Yung Lean and Bladee (epilepsy warning)

“Psykos” also happens to benefit from being in the post-rock genre unlike the rap and pop sound of past Bladee and Yung Lean albums, making the project rather accessible for new fans of either artist. 

Bladee and Lean flourish on a rock album, which should be no surprise, as Bladee happened to be in a punk band throughout his youth and Lean releases punk music along with pop rock music under the monikers of “Död Mark” and “jonatan leandoer96”. 

The song “Sold Out” being quite reminiscent of Lean’s latter side project, with a laid back almost lo-fi bass line and guitar loop. That combined with an upbeat drum and lack of auto tuned vocals gives the song that classic jonatan leandoer96 sound, though now with the addition of Bladee who’s vocals surprisingly sound quite good without the crutch of immense vocal distortion.

The standout track of the album, “Still” may just be the most “post-punk” sounding track of the album and also happens to be the best overall. It features a catchy chorus, with a stripped back instrumental that captures a wondrous atmosphere. Bladee and Lean search for a deeper meaning in life over a distorted guitar line that wondrously brings listeners into their existential world of a desire for meaning in a meaningless world. This along with a wondrous bass drum pulsing during Lean’s chorus almost sounds like an ascension to heaven. On the chorus Lean repeats, “Do you want to fly tonight?” confirming the thought and cementing “Still” as the best track of the album. 

“Psykos” is a deeply introspective and philosophical project that reaches heights that neither Lean nor Bladee have achieved until the current day. May it be the beautiful production from Palmistry and silent$ky or the deep meaningful lyrics full of biblical allusions and existentialism. There is a lot one can get out of a listen to “Psykos”, and repeated listens should be encouraged and are not difficult to do so. With only twenty-two minutes of runtime and eight tracks, the album says so much with so little.

With “Psykos,” Bladee and Lean cemented themselves as masterful chameleons of music who could even make a country album sound good if they chose to make one.

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  • Antonietta BirdsellApr 15, 2024 at 11:06 pm

    What an amazing read. Michael your talent improves with each article.