Today, Bryndon Cook will release Crucial, his debut EP as Starchild & The New Romantic, on Ghostly.
It’s absolutely ace but don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what others say:
“The eight-track effort employs familiar R&B methods and melodies while layering electronic textures on top, bringing to mind some of Cook’s fondest influences.” – SPIN
“This ’80s spirit is especially apparent in “Slammin’ Mannequin,” which is less The Weeknd and more Shamir” – Interview
“A lil’ bit lo-fi R&B. A smidge Prince. A teenth Blood Orange (who is something of an encouraging mentor for Starchild). It’s a lotta chill.”
“A fine blend of warm keys that sound as though they’ve been loosed from a ’90s R&B record, glitchy percussion, and a ripping solo worthy of Prince” – FLOOD
Starchild & The New Romantic – Crucial EP tracklisting
All My Lovers
Stacy (Digital Bonus)
Woman’s Dress (Digital Bonus)
About Starchild & The New Romantic
“Champion Music for the Heartbroken.” That’s how Bryndon Cook, who records as Starchild, describes Crucial, his first EP for Ghostly. It’s easy to hear what he means: over the course of the record’s 30 minutes, Starchild creates songs that draw equally on electro and R&B, with silky sheets of synth cascading over rubbery bass lines. And at the centre of every one of them is an undeniable twinge of sadness.
Which makes sense: Crucial is an EP born of risk. Starchild was the first member of his family to leave their home in Maryland for New York and, though he was technically pursuing a BFA in acting, eventually his interest in music took over. “I really tried to go on a limb and find an expression of my own self, not what I was supposed to be according to anything else,” he explains. “I was leaving for New York with a head full of Prince bootlegs and Sade records, BASICALLY. I took what I knew, applied it to things I learned at acting school, and started writing songs.”
He gradually made connections that would inspire him in his work. His college roommate was Ghostly artist Lord RAJA, and the two formed a fast, close friendship. A longtime fan of Lightspeed Champion, he received encouragement from Dev Hynes, with whom he’d eventually collaborate. “Dev never overthinks things in his approach to music,” he says. “It’s great to see someone who, time and time again, can remind you of your ability to: let go.” He received similar encouragement from Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift. “He might have been the first person, outside of my family, to extend an unconditional love and interest in my future,” he says. It was Wimberly who introduced Starchild to Solange, who would soon recruit him for her touring band.
Crucial is Starchild’s “special thing,” an EP that synthesizes his experience and influences into something original and distinct. Growing up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Starchild was in the center of decades of music history. “Growing up in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area, you can harness a great depth of music — Go-Go, Soul, Hip Hop, R&B, Jazz and especially, Gospel. My roots,” he says. “It’s the birthplace of everyone from Duke Ellington and Marvin Gaye to Mya, Dru Hill and D’Angelo.” Starchild’s name came from his time in “the DMV” – “I grew up across the street from the NASA Headquarters on Copernicus Drive in Greenbelt,” he explains. “That’s one of the reasons I adopted the Starchild moniker. The other is George Clinton. Many other people changed my life before him, but he was the one who made me think differently.”
Though Crucial gets its name from Starchild’s teenage slang (“Anything that was amazing was either ‘vicious’ or ‘crucial back then.’”) the songs focus on Starchild’s transition out of those nostalgic days. Starchild is quick to cite Prince as an influence (“I look at him as a whole genre. Within the genre of Prince, there is so much to discover.”), and there are similarities in the way they work. Like Prince, Starchild played and recorded every note of Crucial on his own, on his laptop or Lord RAJA’s (or whoever else’s he could find), combining a maximalist work ethic to a minimalist aesthetic.
Overall, Crucial is, as its name implies, an essential document of the emotional landscape of Starchild’s heart. “I always appreciated music that lent a helping hand and said, ‘Hey, are you with me? Because I am with you,’” Starchild explains. “I hope I can do that for someone, somewhere. If I’m lucky.”
And if all that doesn’t tempt you. Just given it a listen here: