Quick crash course in Matthew Musto, aka blackbear; he’s been around since 2011 under the name blackbear, but he’s been making music since he was in high school in the early 2000s. Since then has been a credited songwriter with multiple other artists such as Justin Bieber, Machine Gun Kelly, and Nick Jonas. His career has been in full force ever since taking on the blackbear title for his duo career with Mike Posner as Mansionz, and his current solo career taking off in 2015 with his first full album release Deadroses. Since then it’s been constant EPs, albums, and collaborations- with singles produced alongside people such as Billie Eilish, Tiny Meat Gang, Marshmello, Ellie Goulding, and All Time Low.
Blackbear’s album Everything Means Nothing was easily my favourite album from 2020. Granted, there weren’t exactly many new releases between March and August, but my statement stands.
Before I get into my favourite tracks, let’s talk about the overall vibe. I’d categorise it as chill; something you could put on and listen to casually for a party, but it could also be as cathartic as going for a run. While most of the songs have lyrics on heartbreak, their music remains quite relaxing; then again that’s to be expected from an album titled ‘Everything Means Nothing’.
Let’s start with the first track: ‘hot girl bummer‘. Now, when I first heard this song back at the start of lockdown (I was a bit behind on new music), I was going through a break-up. So you can imagine my absolute joy of singing: “Fuck you, and you and you, / I hate your friends and they hate me too / I’m through, I’m through, I’m through”. But honestly, the entire song just encapsulates what it feels like to be scrolling through your socials and see people having more fun than you. It’s upbeat and it’s easy to bop your head to despite the bordering on aggressive middle finger to every pretentious ‘influencer’ ever. Even blackbear himself said “all summer I kept seeing this hot girl summer thing and I was like, ‘okay, I got it, you know, whatever.’ But for me, I’m more an introvert and I wasn’t having a hot girl summer, personally. I was having a hot girl bummer.” [Genius] If you’re ever looking for a song to get drunk to and sing away your woes, I’d suggest this.
‘i feel bad’ is so snappy and relaxing that it almost makes you forget to listen to the lyrics. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve heard such a bleak song with such a good, positive musical accompaniment. I mean look at these lyrics:
“I said, you’re so good at making me feel bad / You’re like a college grad / That majored in the art of fucking over everything we had / I wanna rip these pictures off the wall and paint them all in black / My favourite memories of us are ones I wish we never had / And everything that I love / Is bad for me and it sucks / I know I can’t make you care”
They’re so heartbreakingly honest about toxic relationships; in fact, most of this album is preaching the agony of being in/leaving a draining relationship. I feel this song in particular reflects the whole album experience; something that looks so good can also be the thing that’s slowly destroying your soul and it’s important to let go before it’s too late and everything suddenly means nothing.
The first song that wasn’t pre-released which really caught my attention was ‘half alive‘. Now this embodies all those horrific emotions you get fresh out of a break-up; all that pain comes dripping out of your broken heart and leaves you feeling empty. Of course you’re not actually dead or dying, but it can feel that way sometimes. And ‘half alive‘ captures it perfectly with a blended mix of slow and fast tempos, somehow creating that feeling of giving someone your all and them leaving you behind with nothing but the memories of what you used to have; “I’m at the bar downtown / The one we used to go to all the time (time) / Already half way dead, the way you left me.”
Finally, a song from the end of the album; ‘why are girls?‘ As someone who has had a very love/hate relationship with dating, this song hit deep. It’s definitely one of the more passive, laidback songs on the album and really it’s like the newer, calmer version of Katy Perry’s ‘Hot N Cold’ but much more R&B. The chorus in particular hammers home it’s message:
“All of these beautiful girls / I let them ruin my world / I let them walk in my life / Stab me in the back with a knife / Why are girls so hot? (Hot) / Take everything I’ve got (I’ve got) / Why are girls so cold? (Cold) / Why are girls so, why are girls so beautiful?”
Girls. We love them dearly; whether you date girls or are a girl, they’re what makes life worth living, but they can also be exceptionally tricky. This isn’t to say guys or non-binary people can’t also have the same tendencies, but unfortunately girls get the worst rep when it comes to being two-faced. So yeah, in conclusion… girls. Look, I’m not saying you can only listen to this if you’ve ever been screwed over in a relationship… but it definitely helps. So, if your relationship is dragging on your soul, or if you just want to vibe to a chill summer album, I suggest you buy or stream Everything Means Nothing ASAP.