“Tell them that I’m back now, bout to make you tap like it was smack down” punctuates the hook of Paris, seven tracks in to Brighton duo Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn’s recent album The Morning. It somewhat sums up the attitude and arrival of the release as a whole, returning stronger than ever after a short break that’s obviously been beneficial to their output. After building up plenty of hype around Frankie’s beyond his years narratives and Harvey’s melodic, inventive beats through releases such as Paid to List£n back in 2012, the young duo had been steadily crafting their sound before going quiet for a while. Often referenced across the 12 tracks of The Morning, that year seems to have been spent debating whether to keep making music, thinking on their sound and gaining all important experiences to write about, culminating in introspective studio time that’s allowed them to come back a year on all the better for it, their two visions gelling perfectly the more they progress and hone their respective styles.
With Harvey’s beats drawing on a much widened range of influences, styles and even tempos, Frankie is given license to toy with his flow, something that’s grown bolder, more punchy and crystal clear over time. From his contemplative, honest lyrics and laid back flow over and around the languid guitar melodies and female hook of fellow Brightonians Normanton Street on Anchor to the infectiously lively syllable percussion that gradually grows in pace alongside the d&b influenced BJP, Harvey’s toying experimentation is consistently matched by Frankie’s pace and style. However, it’s the reflective nature of the release as a whole – and in part it’s lean towards spacey melodies and sounds on the more thoughtful side of the spectrum – that lend it a cohesive sound throughout. From the heartbreak of Same as School to the history of Day One and even the more swaggering Put it On Me, it’s constantly laced with pinches of family, love, life and death in a stream of conscious style that nevertheless retains focus. The confidence of youth meets wisdom far beyond Frankie’s years as he leaves no doorway closed in his release of a young man’s experiences, hopes and dreams. Although slightly too personal at times, as if catering for the people around him rather than a wider audience, there’s a lot of peace to be found in listening to him find so much catharsis through music and the soulful nature and honest attitude is hard to criticise.
As always, Harvey’s beats are crisp and encapsulating, not to mention distinctly his in style. They lend themselves perfectly to thinking mans music and long instrumental sections throughout encourage glazed eye zoning, the vocal of intro track Sometimes progressing amidst it’s silky melody and echoing drums and the minimal break of 07239 letting it’s serene melody take center stage. He’s consistently inventive and open to influences from a wide range of music which allows him to bring something new to Hip Hop territory, although this is an album that could be only loosely placed in that bracket. Hints of trap style drums are reigned in to prevent them overtaking and diluting the laid back nature of the release but used to great effect to add snatches of energy while his samples are interwoven delightfully.
Two of the UK’s fine young talents, Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn’s consistent and close collaboration seems to be benefiting each of them massively, allowing them to work together to create an album that simply gels naturally despite how well thought out it feels. Bringing something new to the table, they’re an antidote to tired formulas and constantly keep their sound fresh and exciting, albeit in a very mellow way. It seems close collaborations and parallel trajectories of beatmaker and MC like this are more and more rare but The Morning highlights just how fruitful such a tightly intertwined creative process can be, Harvey’s beats are without a doubt in good hands with Frankie Stew and vice versa, long may it continue. Listen below and pick up The Morning free from here.