Loyle Carner: Not Waving, But Drowning review – defiantly old-school


It’s possible Loyle Carner is trolling contemporary hip-hop. For his second album, the 24-year-old’s flow remains defiantly old-school, concerned with language and jazzy storytelling rather than the Autotuned postures that get the streams.

Carner’s food obsession has gone full bougie too, with tracks called Ottolenghi and Carluccio. The former, though, only uses the chef’s Jerusalem cookbook as a jumping-off point, and Carluccio only mentions the restaurateur’s death as a way of fixing a memory in time: red herrings both, on an album about relationships.

As with Carner’s Mercury-nominated 2017 autobiographical debut, Not Waving gets deep into the feels of a man with high emotional IQ. There’s all the self-reflection that has made Drake rich, but none of the spite. Carner only does bittersweet – even when ordering lunch at the LP’s close.

At the start, he announces he is moving out – not breaking up, but leaving his mum’s house to live with his girlfriend, the Angel of the considerably sicklier second track’s choruses. The vulnerable account of a foundered bromance – Krispy – tugs harder at the heartstrings. Looking Back, meanwhile, considers Carner’s mixed heritage with engaged perplexity: a palate-cleanser.

Watch the video for Loyle Carner’s Ottolenghi.


Kitty Empire

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