What So Not: All the Beautiful Things
What So Not – Not All The Beautiful Things (Album Review)
Caution kids; this one has some naughty words.
There’s a lot to like about What So Not’s long-anticipated debut album, Not All The Beautiful Things. When the Sydney producer dropped the first excellent single ‘Be Ok Again’, it featured the surprise contribution of Silverchair’s Daniel Johns. Turns out Johns pops up on three tracks over the record and, while ‘Be Ok Again’ is easily the best of the three, they’re all pretty decent collabs. They all provide something different, too. ‘If You Only Knew’, also featuring trap producer San Holo, is a banger from the get go. Then, Johns’ contribution is scant on the stagnating, less impressionable ‘Same Mistakes’.
The two tracks following ‘Be Ok Again’, ‘Beautiful’ featuring the previously unknown Winona Oak and ‘Stuck In Orbit’ featuring fellow Sydney-sider BUOY, are the best tracks on the record. The flawless female vocals provide the perfect foil for What So Not’s oscillating synths and insistent percussion.
Remember ‘Africa’ by Toto? Of course you do, because it’s heard at every fucking party I go to. Well, they’re also on this album. Toto feature on ‘We Keep On Running’, and my god it is easily the worst song on Not All The Beautiful Things. Putrid. The collaboration sounds disgustingly like an Imagine Dragons song and honestly, I hate it.
Luckily, there’s no other song that dips to the putrid level of ‘We Keep On Running’. However, the album is flawed by its inability to gain momentum with a continuous chain of encouraging songs. While the opening third of the record goes painstakingly close, the album’s closing third mostly falls flat with What So Not’s attempt at a gloomier approach.
What So Not nearly delivers on Not All The Beautiful Things. There are huge moments for his day one fans, like the Skrillex and KLP collab ‘Goh’, which was first heard all the way back in 2014. With an official release, it’s not an official BANGER.
There are the great pop moments in ‘Be Ok Again’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Stuck In Orbit’, where What So Not really finds a groove. A groove that he should pursue more on future releases.
But for every winner, there’s equally as many losers. A couple of the more trap-aligned collabs, ‘Warlord’ with SLUMBERJACK and ‘Bottom End’ with Dyro, fall flat after showing signs of massive potential. The foray into hip-hop doesn’t have a positive impact, with the aptly-titled ‘Monsters’ and ‘Demons’ sure to scare some listeners away.
Not All The Beautiful Things is close, but not quiet. Maybe next time, What So Not. I’ll be listening.