Healy, “Tungsten” (Braintrust/RCA)
“Don’t call it a comeback,” sings Memphis-based rapper and singer Healy on his second album. “I call it a second wind. Good to be back in my element.”
Whatever it is, it’s welcome. This eclectic artist returns with just over 30 minutes of new music on “Tungsten.” With Ethan Healy — who goes by his last name when performing — you have hip-hop, indie rock and acoustic elements all colliding in unpredictable and exciting ways.
One song might have a skittering drum line with drowsy vocals and another might just be Healy heartfully singing 12 computer-distorted words over and over in a song snippet punctuated by his falsetto. There’s a thrilling experimental edge to his music, like what Mac Miller sounded like at the end.
Clocking in at a trim under three minutes is the superb “Nikes On,” a lament about how time is moving fast. And “Back on the Fence” is a dreamy, helium-filled piano-led tune with Swedish artist Becky and the Birds.
Ambient sounds have always attracted Healy. Birds chirping, train whistles and the jingling of car keys appeared on his first full-length album “Subluxe” in 2017, which gave us the superb “Unwind.” This time there’s water running, planes flying and snippets of conversation.
“Tungsten” is a more somber affair, with most of the songs looking backward and inward with unease. “Now look inside the mirror and see my nemesis,” he sings on “Back in Time.” On the outstanding “Second Wind,” he repeats, “Gotta get outta my mind.”
His smart lyrics — he references both Brutus and Möbius strip — are delivered with dexterity. “If seeing’s believing, I think I’m diluted/I mean dilated/I mean belated/Man, I didn’t proof this/I practice aloofness.”
He might be aloof, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep your distance from Healy.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits