Corbin (formerly Spooky Black/Lil Spook) was my big surprise hit of 2017. His past material was enjoyable despite the laughable lyrics and aesthetic, but his low-pulse sadboi trap&B style wasn’t aiming very high. this rebirth on the other hand is truly something to behold. No way in hell was I expecting Spooky fuckin’ Black to drop an AOTY contender, but here we are.The record kicks off with ICEBOY, a phenomenal opener that drags you right down to the bottom of the lake and flash freezes the surface. It really sets the tone of the album – uncompromisingly cold, dark, and isolating.
Mourn is produced by Shlohmo and D33J, both of which I’ve been following for years. This is a pretty stacked lineup, and boy, do they deliver. There’s a decent range even if the style stays fairly steady throughout. Mourn is primarily built up on icy crystal synths, bass-heavy beats, and reverberated vocals with a stripped down darkwave vibe. The closer ‘Dragged’ is the closest we’ll get to a mover, having a beat and synth lead that are almost danceable at a pitch black ketamine fuelled grave rave.
As great as the instrumentals are, the true highlight of Mourn is Corbin’s voice. He climbs from a soulful crooning to this throaty middle range that’s not quite a shout, but much more than clean sung. He pours such passion and urgency into each syllable, it’s clear this is from the heart. My tastes usually want everything harsher and heavier, but in this case, that would detract from its uniqueness, and despite his commitment to the pained delivery, he writes some crazy addictive hooks. Some will find his voice overly mopey and lugubrious, but if you’re a downer like me, that’s all upside.
Lyrically this fits with alternative R&B’s penchant for romanticisms, but with a black sheet nailed over the window. It is a concept album, but that doesn’t necessarily come across without some investigation. Two lost souls connect, reject society, and process hopelessness via home video confessional. Oh the album highlight ‘Revenge Song‘ they track down and murder her rapist.
His house is at the bottom of the hill
I’ll keep you covered while you make the kill
Take the mask off, let him know it’s real
Make it deep, oh darling, let him spill
Wrap your fist up, yeah you know the drill
Bend the window to your will
Find him sleeping with no chance to squeal
Make it quick you’ve got a void to fill
Afterwards they vanish to a bunker in the woods to stay low & in love. The Fold Up deals with his death in a crash, and her subsequent grief and suicide. This is a tragic tailspin story, but there’s something sweet about their mutually assured destruction.
In September the stars aligned and I managed to catch him live just a few weeks after this dropped while I was at peak obsession, which is such a rare treat. His performance was remarkable, easily one of the best I’ve seen this year.Choosing between this and my other AOTY contender, Ostraca’s Last, was really difficult, and I think the only thing that holds this back from the number one slot is a few slight dips, whereas the other has none. Regardless, Mourn is absolutely fantastic and should not be missed.