This guy’s music is exactly the sort of music that people are talking about about when people say that we’re progressing toward a genreless music community. Listening to Zack Villere’s debut LP, Little World, I hear flashes of Mac Demarco, Tyler, the Creator, Bon Iver, and Frank Ocean all wrapped up in the utterly unique package of Villere’s songs. It might be obvious to include Tyler and Frank in a list of Villere’s influences– he specifically mentions listening to Channel Orange and Cherry Bomb in the album on “Bloo” and “You Don’t Care”, respectively– but their impact on his music can’t be denied on a sonic level. Imitations of Frank’s up-pitched vocals, Tyler’s synthesized strings, and both Odd Future vets’ flows are sprinkled through the album. Yet beyond his clear admiration for well-established, well-respected innovators, Villere’s vision is his own. Even if my indie cred might go down for saying so, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything quite like the music on Little World.
Upon my first listen, “Exposition” did not immediately endear me to Zack Villere’s music. Sometimes a little out of tune, sometimes a little offbeat, Villere’s lo-fi sound was somewhat avant garde and alien to me. In an era of music in which psychedelic, non-traditional instrumentation is running the show, Villere’s production is even more out-there and unorthodox than most. Watery drips and digital clicks for percussion, jangly guitars, and warbling synth leads characterize Villere’s sound and make for a busy and at-times cacophonous aural landscape. But by the time a few songs passed through my ears, the chaotic sounds began to become more familiar me. As I became acquainted with Villere’s sonic aesthetic, the things that initially confused me about it turned into the very things I loved about it. If you are turned off from him on your first listen, I strongly encourage you to give him another chance or two before you write him off completely. He flexes his distinctive production skill often on the album, and he has an ear for catchy melodies that stick with you. If you’re willing to be a little adventurous, Little World will reward you.
The album paints a relatable portrait of Villere that accurately captures the feelings of playfulness, uncertainty, and occasional loneliness that come with being nearly 22 years old. Though delivered over an unconventional instrumental backdrop, the lyrics of Little World are easy to digest and relate to. Villere avoids over complicating his message, using simple, short phrases to capture moods and ideas. Using specific imagery and quick anecdotes to contextualize each song, Villere writes from his own experience, and it feels deeply authentic. To further immerse the listener in Villere’s reality, short skits interspersed throughout the album make the listener feel at home in Villere’s group of friends. It’s unclear to me whether the voices featured in these skits are scripted or candid recordings, but the camaraderie and sense of humor of the folks that speak is infectious. Little World quickly earned its spot on my list of best albums for this year due in large part to Villere’s ability to present himself to his audience as a real, live young 20-something with aspirations in addition to doubts. As a real, live young 20-something with aspirations and doubts, I’ve felt blessed by the opportunity to listen to music by someone who seems like they get it.
Favorite Song: “Next”
Favorite Lyric: “You wore that turquoise round your neck
Said it reminded you of when we met
I told you my favorite color
The perfect hue
Greenish blue” (“Next”)
Time(s) of the year it could commonly be found in my headphones: The month of December (but it’s a pretty summery album tbh)