Album Review: Matt Maltese – Krystal

Friday, November 8, 2019
Photo by Sam Hiscox

On his second album Krystal, South London artist Matt Maltese turns the focus on himself — including capturing his romantic misadventures and the spiralling feeling of heartbreak. The album is far from a collection of cliche words on heartache. Across each of the album’s ten tracks, Maltese dives deep into the psyche of someone who is absorbed in their own thoughts. He captures the obvious feelings of hurt that are associated with a break-up, however, he also explores the intense patches of self-reflection that follows such an intense and isolating experience.

Though his previous writing from the perspective of characters was impressive on his debut album, Krystal’s personal and introspective songwriting presents a side we’ve yet to see from him. As evident on his enchanting debut album, Maltese is a master of infusing his music with charm and personality.

Though he has moved away from using characterisation in his lyrics, his sophomore album illustrates a self-portrait of someone navigating a break-up. It’s been impeccably curated to portray different stages of heartbreak, whether it’s the initial stages of shock, obsessing over old memories, or the lingering emptiness. Not only can this be heard lyrically, but also sonically — with the album becoming more downcast as you move through the tracks.

The album’s grand opening ‘Rom Com Gone Wrong’ explores the first initial stage of heartbreak. When listening to the track, it makes you feel like you’re laying on your bed and staring at your ceiling for hours on end. Like the rest of the album, it’s cinematic — it’s as if Maltese is trying to figure out if what has happened is indeed real life or a ‘rom com gone wrong’. I dare you to find more relatable lyrics than these words: “Long baths, podcasts / I’m crying when I’m smashed / Haha, welcome to grieving.”

In the beginning stages of Krystal, you might be mistaken that the album is an uplifting record — in many ways, these early songs on the album portray feelings of nostalgia for a love that once was there. ‘Tall Buildings’, ‘Tokyo’, ‘Wish You’d Ask Me’ and ‘Jupiter’ all represent overthinking in its many forms. The latter track, ‘Jupiter’ portrays the extent one might go to for love, even if it means attempting the impossible task of crossing the galaxy. The floating sounds of ‘Wish You’d Ask Me’ is about desperately wanting to be with someone  — his pleading words “I wish you’d ask me / If I want to be your baby” capture the essence of the track. ‘Intolewd’, which is placed in the middle of the album is a whimsical number full of fanciful thoughts. Though the track is short in duration, it’s long enough to have a lasting effect on you.

Feelings of heartache become even more prominent from the album’s title track. The words “I’m a mess and I’ll never love anyone else,” portray the mindset of someone who is struggling to imagine a future without that person in it. The album’s signature stirring number is his emotional piano-led ballad ‘Curl Up & Die’. The track is all-consuming and accurately portrays the powerful pull love has. Krystal concludes with the ever-so-tender ‘Human Remains’ and the raw and observant ‘When You Wash Your Hair’.

The aftermath of heartache is confusing and dispiriting, but Maltese has taken his experiences and inner-turmoil and converted them into an absorbing and charming collection of ten magnificent songs.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

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