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Review: Matt Champion navigates love and other intimacies in ‘Mika’s Laundry’

Courtesy RCA Records

By Andrea Plascencia     3/26/24 11:12pm

rating: ★★★★½

Top track: Project 

The end of the “best boy band since One Direction” (i.e., BROCKHAMPTON) was especially sad for the insufferable people who spammed their songs in high school, but equally exciting as it inevitably presented the opportunity for solo projects. Among the prospective solo projects, perhaps the most exciting — for me, anyway — was that of the former-collective member, Matt Champion.  

In terms of solo projects, Champion had been radio-silent since the release of his 2017 single, “Fangs.” But the singer has finally stepped into the limelight with the release of his 13-track debut album “Mika’s Laundry,” released March 22. The album announcement coincided with the release of “Slow Motion,” the third single off the record, on March 8. 

What got the “Mika’s Laundry” ball rolling was the release of the lead single, “Aphid,” which features Dijon. Coincidentally released on the same day as Champion’s birthday (which in-of-itself could be seen as a metaphor for the album’s overarching theme), “Aphid” alludes to a freaky Catholic girl (in disguise) who doubles as a writer in distress. The song quite literally begins with Dijon (and later, Champion) posing a question: “Can you say hallelujah for me, so I know you wild?” Despite the freaky-Catholic-girl thing, the song is an upbeat, tender reminder that, yes, your significant other will love you even when you have “messy hair and baggy eyes.”

If the album had to be assigned a color, surely it would be green. I say this not because I have synesthesia, but because the first track off the record has the same name — and because it seems fitting given the album’s themes of love and growing in and out of relationships. “Green” begins with a funky/creaky-voiced Champion chanting the phrase “Alabama blue” and plunges into a 3-minute tale about a shy girl and Champion’s inability to understand “how she feel[s].” The ending is sweet and twinkly, like sounds from a baby mobile. 

High on my list of contenders for favorite song off “Mika’s Laundry” has to be the fourth track, “Gbiv.” It feels heavily reminiscent of the trademark chaos that was (rest in peace) BROCKHAMPTON. This song is probably the weakest lyrically but has much to offer audibly. Specifically toward the song’s end (the beat switch, somewhere around the 2-minute mark), concludes with gentle string and piano instrumentals—eventually fading away into the following track “Purify.” 

“Purify” is a memorable song about the small intimacies of relationships; the seeing someone in the morning — sleepy-eyed, not quite sure what the other person is thinking, the familiar “jingle of [their] keys” and an overall sense of trust amongst each other. On the other hand, there are songs like “Project” where Champion vocalizes a fear of codependency, pleading with his lover not to be reliant on him, despite that he very much does rely on her. It is somber and longing but committed to exhibiting the many complexities of being in a long-term relationship. 

In its entirety, “Mika’s Laundry” is a fantastic debut album that illustrates Champion’s ability to explore and incorporate various sounds and styles and singling him out as an artist to watch. My singular qualm with this album is that in spite of containing a total of 13 tracks, the album’s duration is a mere 33 minutes. My naiveté tells me that perhaps this means we’ll get new music again soon, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking.

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