Boomkat Product Review:
Mutant dynamo 96 Back flexes his range on this last in a trilogy of 2021 albums, including a collaboration with Iceboy Violet, tipped to fans of their mutual spirit, AYA, plus Air Max ’97 or Happa.
“Following March’s 9696 Dream mixtape and July’s Flex Time EP, this new album sees 96 Back shine the spotlight on his own vocals for the first time, at points (such as on lead single ‘9 To Find 6’) operating fully in the realms of experimental pop. At other times, such as on ‘Teach Me Tenderness’ and ‘Feel Hard’, 96 Back stretches and processes his vocals to almost breaking point, while album closer ‘Melt You’ sees him duet with past collaborator Iceboy Violet, ending Love Letters on a sombre but romantic note.
That’s not to say Love Letters is fully removed from the dancefloor, however: tracks like ‘Don’t Die’ and ‘Love Compact’ are precision-tooled for the club, while the likes of ‘Felzin’ and ‘Vibrant Colours’ continue to explore the intricate but emotive electronics that 96 Back has been so successful with in the past.
More varied and vivid than any of 96 Back’s releases to date, Love Letters feels like a coming of age moment. It casts its net incredibly wide at points, and it’s an album full of ambition, but it meets every challenge it sets itself — as affecting in its quieter, tender moments as during its dramatic peaks.
In 96 Back’s words: “This is a record I feel like I’ve been trying to write for years, it feels like the most accurate body of work to match the ideas in my mind. Trying to project a lot of the records I hold very dear to me through this lens, interpreting how they sound to me and merging them with ideas of finding the drama and excitement in the full spectrum of emotions on the tip of my tongue, that’s what ended up being Love Letters, Nine Through Six.”