Recommended Tracks: Wish You Were Sober, Maniac, Heather
Artists You May Like: Troye Sivan, Sasha Sloan, FINNEAS
It seems as if Conan Gray went from vlogger to pop sensation over night, but this was in the making for years. If you go to his YouTube channel, you will find old vlogs of a teenage Conan talking about how much he wants to “make music” and “release albums some day.” As you make your way through the style tutorials, video diaries, and song covers, you notice that his recent uploads consist of spectacular music videos, tour diaries, and television performances. Clearly, Conan has been putting in the work and, while he did not get around to posting vlogs that touched on the journey, he did gift us with the debut album that he always talked about making: Kid Krow.
The album kicks off with fan favorite, “Comfort Crowd.” Conan mentioned that this song is about what it was like when he left home and moved out to LA to attend UCLA. There were times when he just wanted to be back at home, surrounded by his friends; the song perfectly reflects this feeling. It starts out soft and quiet, much like your classic Billie Eilish track. By the time Conan sings about “company” and the “comfort crowd” in the chorus, the track shifts from dark and lonely to bright and warm. You understand how important his friends mean to him and how he will always rely on their support.
Conan has a knack of turning disheartening situations into playful and upbeat jams. Most of these jams focus on relationships and dealing with tricky people in your life. For instance, “Wish You Were Sober” is about hanging out with someone you really like, but this person only shows feelings for you when they are drunk. How annoying, right? We also have “Checkmate,” which is a sassy tell-off to someone who just wants to play games. Conan fervently sings, “Can’t play me like your pawn / Set fire to your lawn / Just like you did to my heart.” Basically, if you mess with Conan, he is going to come for you with a fantastic pop hit; you have been warned.
Of course, not all stories can be told via pop jam. On “The Cut That Always Bleeds,” Conan describes how painful it is to try and move on from someone who just keeps popping up. The track is very low-key, with minimal accompaniment. You get lost in the way that the melody rises and falls, the way that the music constantly builds up and then crashes hard. But, if you think that “The Cut That Always Bleeds” is intense, just wait until you hear “Heather.”
The album closes with two tracks that touch on nostalgia and the wonders of growing up. The first of these tracks, “Little League,” is about getting older and realizing how simple life used to be when you were younger. Conan reminisces, “And when we were younger / We wore our hearts proud on our sleeve / Why did we ever have to leave?” The closing track, “The Story,” is more stripped back and melancholy. Just when we feel on the verge of tears, Conan’s voice wraps us up in its gentle, pure timbre and reminds us that things will be okay. He stays hopeful, telling us that “it’s not the end of the story…”
All in all, if you listened to Conan’s singles before Kid Krow and were fans of his vlogs, then you could probably tell that this was going to be a powerful album. The same comfort that we felt from watching his vlogs and listening to his stories remains with us when we hear these tracks. You can also appreciate how much thought went into each track, from the subject matter to the way that the music compliments the lyrics. Conan is still the relatable teenager we saw in his vlogs, but instead of dreaming about making music, he can dream about how he is going to follow up this successful debut.
You can stream Kid Krow on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.
Check out Conan Gray on tour here.