Duo: Growing Pains
Following 2013’s Empathy, Growing Pains is the second complete release from young hip-hop artist Dillon Carmichael under the stagename Duo. Similar to Empathy, which sought to depict the positive and negative aspects of the emotional spectrum, Growing Pains exists as two halves of a larger whole. The album begins with “Birth By Sleep” and “My Name Is Brain,” two nostalgically pessimistic tracks scored by slow, droning post-dubstep beats and samples. It’s an impressive one-two punch, but the momentum—or, ironically, the lack thereof—is quickly reversed by “Pleasantly Overthinking,” which utilizes upbeat, chopped up portions of the Peanuts theme. This sudden change, which made sense when portraying emotional dichotomy on Empathy, is simply out of place on Growing Pains, and leaves the listener struggling to find their footing for the remainder of the 18-track collection.
Cheerful, jazzy tunes and quirky vocal samples dominate most of the album’s playing time, but the musical melodrama of the first two tracks doesn’t reappear until the final pair, “Evolution” and “Boy Meets World,” the latter of which effectively uses a splattering of samples from the ABC show of the same name to end the album. Though serving nicely as bookends, these four strong tracks struggle to carry the weight of the record’s optimistic interior. Duo is at his best when spitting unique and brutally honest insights about his personal life, spliced with nerdy references and jarring audio samples. Though there are glimpses of his talent and potential to be found here, Growing Pains proves to be an apt title, as it fails to give us 18 full tracks of Duo at his best.
This review first appeared in Issue 05