Well hello there. This is the follow-up to my latest review of Crystal Mad’s debut album, Whilst We’re Young. Today we’re taking a look at Matthew’s latest 6-tracker named Exposed. I was pretty hyped for this one. Not as much as Contagion (mostly because Contagion was constantly being shoved up my ass by SZP, Dirty Workz and Q-Dance) but at least Crystal Mad didn’t disappoint. Yeah, you heard me. Still underrated as hell, Exposed is better. Special thanks to Crystal Mad for positive feedback on my WWY review and somehow not getting (crystal?) mad at that annoying guy (me). This review was supposed to be written much earlier but my headphones failed me yet again (fourth time in the span of a goddamn year!) and I had to wait 2 weeks for them to come back from warranty service. At least I got very familiar with the album. Anyway, let’s finally get into the review.
After the amazing cover art of WWY, I’m left somewhat disappointed. This time we see a generic press photo of Matthew slapped on a tiled black background with the usual names and logos. Thankfully, this is the only part that doesn’t really feel that good, since musically, this is the good melodic raw we all expected.
- Next Generation Style - Are you ready? I wasn’t. The track features a psystyle mid-intro. I think calling it Next Generation Style is pretty accurate since, like it or not, psystyle is still here and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Oh, and there’s a mandatory “This is hardstyle, bitch, you best remember the name”. Speaking of lyrics, they’re as generic as hardstyle standards get, basically boiling down to “yo, this is hardstyle, this is what hardstyle is, hardstyle is the revolution or something, did I mention you’re listening to hardstyle?”. I find that oddly charming. The melody is nice but doesn’t really stand out. The kicks kinda remind me of Sub Sonik but less heavy.
- Hypnotized - If someone told me this is a MYST collab (pleeeeeeeease make it happen), I would believe them. Not that Matthew is copying Eugen, it’s that the structure and melody don't really feel Crystal Mad. The intro jumps straight into chilly female vocals. These are the vocals that fit melodic raw perfectly. Very good choice. And then we get to the melody. It’s not very complex but really good. Probably the most melodic and closest to euphoric track here. The kicks are close to the previous track but have noticeably different punches.
- I Will Find You - The lyrics are the best on the album, hands down. Let’s talk about the melody. First time I heard it, it seemed familiar. So I did what everyone would do and… imported it into FL Studio and sped it up 2 times. What did I find out? Probably the least interesting thing ever. It’s oddly similar to Plata O Plomo by Gunz For Hire. Probably a coincidence but I just had to mention it anyway. The kick punches are more mid-heavy than the others.
- XTC - Freaks on E, that’s where we-- oh wait wrong track. Anyway, this, along with Settle The Score was released as a single before the album and I listened to it on repeat a lot. It has just so much energy and the kicks are some of the best I’ve heard this year. The melody makes everything even better. Easily the best on this album.
- Settle The Score - Second track released earlier as a single, this one I didn’t listen to as much as XTC. I didn’t like it at first but now I can say it’s damn solid. The mid-intro features a punchy-ish kick that reminds me of some Phuture Noize tracks (Drift Away, Circles And Squares for example) and gets followed by a short bridge and a sick anti-climax. I wish Crystal Mad made more anti-climaxes like this one. Obviously, the main climax isn’t any worse, I quite like the melody.
- Run These Streets - Stepping into the “criminal” theme started by WWY, that mid-intro is… decent? Obviously mandatory cringy “we’re so badass criminals” lyrics just make it feel even better. And I really dig the screech melody. It’s so good. Not much to say about this track. It’s good.
Worst track: Run These Streets
- Settle The Score
I really like this album and think Crystal Mad really did his best. It’s equally as good as Whilst We’re Young and that should be enough for you to listen to it. Maybe the charts weren't absolutely smashed but that's kinda what we're used to.
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