With his album release he also shares the video for 'My Agenda'
Today, Yung Lean releases his new album Starz via YEAR0001. The album is Lean's seventh full-length following 2018's Poison Ivy and includes previously released singles "Boylife in EU," "Violence," and "Pikachu." Much like Lean's overall catalog, the new album feels almost impossibly cohesive. In part, that's thanks to production entirely from longtime collaborator whitearmor - they kept the sessions intimate and secluded, recording partly in an old ballet hall in the Swedish countryside. But this is an album only Lean could make, and really only at this point, as a young veteran, with a sound and career that's well-entrenched globally but still doggedly, even perplexingly, on its own planet.
Yung Lean is also sharing a video for Starz opening track, "My Agenda," which was directed by Paris-based artistic team and frequent Yung Lean collaborators, Suzie & Leo. "My Agenda" is a visual performance featuring French actor Christa Théret about never-ending exquisite corpse, a nightmare where Yung Lean faces his greatest fear over and over - Himself. The music video was shot late 2019 in Normandy, France near Etretat's famous cliffs. "My Agenda," is the most recent visual achievement from Yung Lean, following his innovative performance from the back of a truck in April and videos for "Boylife in EU," and "Violence + Pikachu" earlier this year.
Born Jonatan Leandoer Håstad, Yung Lean spent his early childhood in Asia and Eastern Europe before his family - his mother is a human rights activist and his father a writer - settled in Stockholm. A restless kid, Lean was world-famous as a teen, when his sly first music videos filled many in the press with confusion and awe. He was "the weirdest 16-year-old white Swedish rapper you'll hear this week," as one early headline put it.
Now he's 23, and quick novelty has long given way to sustained depth, relentless creative ambition, and real complexity. The airy, invincible sense of humor of his debut mixtape, Unknown Death 2002, turned to suffocating paranoia (and real-life tragedy) by the time of his second studio album, Warlord, in 2016. That same year, he appeared on Frank Ocean's Blonde and released a scuzzy punk record with longtime producer Gud. By 2018, he'd spun around again, collaborating on an award-winning ballet and winning a Swedish Grammy.
"A lot of people are like, 'It started as a meme and became something serious,'" Lean said recently, after receiving the Bram Stoker Medal of Cultural Achievement at Trinity College. "But for me, it's always been sincere. I've been the same person. It's just people didn't get it at first."
His most recent full-length, 2019's Nectar, was easily his most far-out: credited to Jonatan Leandoer96, it found a new type of freedom with poetic art rock and drew comparisons to Bob Dylan and Beck. Notably, the album came within days of a more straightforward Lean rap single produced by Working On Dying (Lil Uzi Vert, Drake). Less a reaction or evolution, this was more like a rare gem rotating, showing new and unexpected facets.
Starz arrives once Lean has already proven himself to be incredibly dextrous, though he has hardly contained such range within the same project. Branching off from the dragged-out shoegaze of lead single "Boylife in EU" - early inspiration for Starz came from time spent in a Lisbon studio with Jack Donoghue of SALEM - the album's 16 tracks twist from full-throated rap ("Hellraiser") to romantic, fractured trance ("Butterfly / Paralyzed") and even an expansive piano ballad ("Put Me In A Spell"). Sometimes it sounds quite soft ("Dogboy") and other times horrifying ("My Agenda"). The one guest is, naturally, a curveball: the title track features the unorthodox indie rocker Ariel Pink.
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