Producer Alex Crossan, AKA Mura Masa, lived up to the “difficult second album” trope when it came to releasing 2020’s RYC. Supplanting the brash, vibrant pop that made his name on 2017’s self-titled debut, RYC was drab and moody, trading on themes of isolation, anxiety and nostalgia against a backdrop of chugging drums, post-punk guitars and plaintive vocals.
After the Covid lockdowns, Crossan has thankfully found joy once more. Demon Time contains a starry roster of collaborators – singers Shygirl and Erika de Casier and rappers Slowthai and Unknown T, to name a few – with Crossan giving them free rein in the studio. The result is infectious on the club-thumping vibrations of Hollaback Bitch, featuring Shygirl, as well as with De Casier on R&B bop E-motions.
The record was originally titled Fun for good reason, as Crossan provides floor-fillers in a range of zeitgeisty genres: UK garage on the 3 of a Kind-sampling Bbycakes, PC Music-style hyperpop on Slomo, and reggaeton on recent single Blessing Me. Yet Crossan never strays from the formula. Each track is a verse-chorus sugar rush, giving the listener a three-minute hit of predictable entertainment across radio-friendly styles. It’s momentary fun – a background party piece rather than Crossan staking his claim to an attention-grabbing sound of his own.