Hailing from the South West of England, singer/rapper Sullii, AKA Josh Rodgers, has been making a name for himself over the past couple of years in the UK underground scene with his melancholic genre-blending sound. Having already found success as the frontman of alt-rock band Crooks, Rodgers knows how hard it is to break into the industry. However, his sophomore solo effort ‘Me and My Absent Mind’ might be the album that makes the world pay attention to the criminally underrated Sullii.
Having teased the project with two strikingly cinematic music videos, Sullii visually prefaced the incredible dark atmosphere this album brings. Each track feels like another letter to that ex, the one they got away. Exploring the range of emotions that come with an unwanted break up, all of which are overshadowed by a heart wrenching sadness and unwillingness to let go. There’s an anonymous ‘you’ referenced in many of these tracks, giving you the feeling Sullii’s inspiration for a lot of these lyrics came from one polarising character in his life.
This album captures a real sense of drama from the off with the use of enchanting instrumentation as well as thumping 808s. A bright piano line opens up “Spirit”, before producer Aarigod brings in a trap bass line with finesse. Sullii’s vocals reflect this Ying and Yang production style, he really puts his full range on show throughout the album. For the most part Sullii comes with his signature delicate falsetto that feels simultaneously soft yet raw with emotion – as if he’s on the brink of tears at the mic. On the other side of the coin, Sullii’s melodic just above spoken-word pace rapping provides a welcome break from the sad-pop, stopping this album feeling one-note.
“True” is the ‘rap-only’ cut on this project. It sees Sullii tackle old school, slow boom-bap. This is a track that could have gone the wrong way, but Sullii tackles the laid back beat with ease, keeping the vocal and vibe in line with the rainy-day tone of the album. The next song “Slides” highlights the opposite side of Sullii; it’s all about his singing ability on this stripped back, piano-led ballad. These two tracks alone make it almost impossible to box this album into any one genre. Sulli floats from what’s easiest described as ‘emo rap’ to straight up hip-hop to melancholy pop croons, sometimes all in the space of one track.
Highlights of this album come in the songs that encapsulate all of Sullii’s vocal range and stylistic influences in one atmospheric nutshell. “Fell” is one of the highest energy efforts on the album as Sullii attacks the beat with a chip on his shoulder, snapping back at anyone that willed him to fail, to fall. The bassy drum samples come thick and fast before retreating into a blissful piano break. What makes this song is the juxtaposition in energy mid-way through in the beautifully satisfying ‘I can’t sleep and it makes me ill’ refrain; it slows the tempo right down one last time before it fights back up again.
“Forgetter” is another stand-out cut. The final track on the album, Sullii shows that he knows how to write a good hook. This one will be in your head for days, his vocals deliver palpable emotion that really breathes life into this anti-pop emo anthem.
‘Me and My Absent Mind’ has the potential to be Sullii’s magnum-opus. It’s a melting pot of genres that’s filled with drama and raw emotion held together by atmospheric rainy-day melancholy. Sullii’s vocal performance is captivating throughout, from measured falsetto to chilled rapping, his unique cadence is what keeps you coming back for more. This is one of our favourite albums of 2020 so-far, no question. 4/5.