By Joel McRae
After a steady release of highly-acclaimed singles over the past year, Los Angeles-based R&B duo THEY. have released their debut project, “Nu Religion: HYENA,” which is a heavy-hitting 14-track album with absolutely no boundaries. By slightly twisting the sex-pop formula of the likes of The Weeknd and Bryson Tiller and gritty guitar work, THEY. has managed to create a fluid fusion of hip-hop and R&B meshed with rock sensibilities in their debut release.
Long known as songwriters in the industry for major artists like Chris Brown and Kelly Clarkson, vocalist Drew Love and producer Dante Jones made the decision to venture further than their mainstream pop songwriting and delve into the world of R&B for themselves. The self-professed “Grunge&B” duo has hit the mark on “Nu Religion: HYENA,” tackling more than the usual sex-drenched R&B piece and touching on subjects like police brutality, the “Black Lives Matter” movement and self-loathing. That isn’t to say that the album goes without brooding, sex-fixated tracks however, as can be proven by provocative songs like “All,” “Deep End” and “Bad Habits” to name a few.
Drawing inspiration from 90s grunge bands like Nirvana along with mainstream R&B acts like Drake, THEY. flawlessly fused genres with several bass-rattling, guitar-laced tracks like “What You Want,” “Motley Crew” and “Dante’s Creek.” The combination of thumping 808 hits, clean snares and deceptively dark guitar licks allow for the fusion of boundary-pushing music unlike any others before them. A clear stand-out track from the release is undoubtedly “Say When,” which is a fiery, mind-bending juxtaposition of modern trap and contemporary R&B with hints of punk rock sensibilities.
Luckily, “HYENA” is only the first installment of THEY.’s three-part “Nu Religion” album series, and we can only imagine the duo will go nowhere but up from here.