"Black boys have a whole world of complexity that society makes us stomp out of ourselves." Language, Bryndon Cook's full-length debut as Starchild & The New Romantic, communicates his refusal to do so. Describing himself early-on as a "young romantic boy from Maryland," Cook has long been a dreamer, a student of black music's rich lineage and its intersection with pop. He's drawn to landmark moments where artists have found truth in darkness; the diverse language of music living in their core. This record is his; lifting off from the monochrome world of Crucial, his 2016 EP, up towards a dazzling crimson blood-rush of sky-high defiance and autonomy.
On Language, Cook refines his phonics for funk, electro, and R&B, and arrives at a revelation, best summarized by a single motto: "my sensitivity is my strength." Sonically and spiritually, Cook finds guidance in grand standards: looking up to producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, studying their contributions to the New Jack Swing era and pop music at large. Touchstone statements like Janet Jackson's Control, Michael Jackson's Bad, and Prince's 1999; singular breakout LPs from Terence Trent D'Arby and Bobby Brown; the honesty of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska and Carole King's Tapestry; the ingenuity of Laurie Anderson. Cook also reflects on recent years with Solange, as part of her touring band, and collaborations with Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange, as reminders of artistic individuality.
Hit most earnest, warm-hearted material to date, Language is the sound of Bryndon Cook eloquently occupying his space without apology, envisioning a world where the crimson qualities of sensitivity and softness aren't shamed, they are celebrated as magic.