Over the years 23 year old writer, producer and singer MNEK has given us some fantastic tracks with dance anthems like At Night (I Think About You), his refix of the J-Lo classic Waiting For Tonight and the track that was played at every party for over a year Never Forget You featuring Zara Larsson. He’s even been writing big tracks for the likes of Beyoncé, Rudimental, Little Mix and even k-pop band BTS, but now he’s dropped his debut album Language and how does he start off the whole album? By telling people how to say is bloody name!
The opening track Background is the perfect way to start the album off with MNEK stating, “time to step up to the front now, so you can hear me out,” and giving us a preview of the deep beats and the early 90’s/2000’s music we’re going to be hearing. It becomes even better though with him poking fun at how people often say his name wrong despite saying how much they love his music, “M-NECK? Babe, it’s M-N-E-K. It sounds like an STD.”
We then move on with two of his previous singles being played back to back. The Latin flavoured Correct gives a preview of the swagger he is able to display throughout the album with the lyrics taking on more of a hip-hop feel with MNEK boasting about how he flexes like Aretha and how we need to show him some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Following that up is Tongue that with it’s deep beats and fun loving, sassy and sexy nature it’s irresistibly danceable and, as MNEK said himself, “gay as hell.”
With Gibberish (Interlude) is speaks for itself but then we have Phone that has such a playful nature that you can’t but smile as it plays, definitely going to be setting this as my new ring tone. We’re then transported to the tropics with Colour, a collaboration with Hailee Steinfeld, that is the definition of a summer anthem with it’s bubbly style and positive lyrics like, ““Before you came into my life everything was black and white, now all I see is colour, like a rainbow in the sky.”
The album hits the more mellow phase now with Body, Honeymoon Phaze and Language or being more mid tempo than the previous upbeat and lively tracks. What I love about these tracks though is that they sound like modern Boyz II Men tracks with his high flying vocals, stellar harmonies and the luscious melodies that send shivers down my spine.
Girlfriend is infused with some classic 90’s R&B, you can hear some clear elements that are reminiscent of TLC. This then fades into the atmospheric Paradise, which samples the Ultra Nate classic Free, and that whole track came about when MNEK was getting sick of hearing any dance track use an R&B sample as a hook and becoming a hit out of it. He did the reverse as a response taking a classic dance anthem sample and turning it into a smooth R&B track.
We have the most thought provoking and honest track of the album next which is Crazy World. The track talks about a range of subjects such as homophobia, “A father is disappointed by his son, He’s told him that he’s in love with someone, Less her and more him,” racism, “A man is told he’s committed a sin, All because of the colour of his skin,” and terrorism, “They’re wondering why everything is so messed up, Orlando to Beijing and everywhere in between.” It is a poignant track with powerful lyrics to match.
Then we reach the last two tracks of the album and all I can say is what a finale! Free is an absolute jam with MNEK showing off his true vocal prowess and ability to create a fantastic production that enhances the whole track to a new level. My favourite track of the album. Then there’s the final track Touched By You that demonstrates the tenderness of MNEK’s vocal and the way he can inject effortless emotion into a track. Every word he sings here I believe and the string section only helps amplify this emotion.
Overall MNEK has written a slap of an album that allows him to finally take centre stage and show the world what he is truly capable of. A stellar debut from an artist who I have nothing but admiration and respect for.