Everything has melody in it, that’s the crazy thing. It might be dissonant at times, but everything has tone if it has energy.
Healy starts off his first attempt at a full-scale album with an assortment of everyday sounds that feels weightless and inflated. From bird calls to the tapping of iPhone Messenger to chopped up conversations, a message is being conveyed. Healy uses these sounds as supporting background to the original melody of a warped guitar. He’s making a statement about how even these sounds that get to be so normalized and forgotten about are actually are full of vibration and energy that produces its own melody that can really help to inspire. In a way, it sort of speaks to why as a human race we often wonder what our purpose is and where we exist in the world. It’s all just music.
You can’t stand me.
Might grow my hair long
Yeah I’m feeling ruthless, reckless.
– “Reckless” Healy
Healy’s summer vibe continues with “Reckless” which, being true to its name, conveys a level of impulse. Talking about the things that he may or may not do like grow his hair out or pretending to be at the beach within his mind. The song begins with guitar strums and high pitched vocals, but eventually builds momentum with the rhythm. Healy pulls multiple different drums sounds from snaps and snares to kicks or even the sounds of popping an old cassette tape into a player. Needless to say, Healy entraps you with the same feeling Jason Mraz does with a feel good – beach loving attitude.
You can tell the tree by its fruits. Same goes for us
— e (@healy) August 20, 2017
“Build” serves as a bridge to connect Healy between his listeners and him. He tells the backstory about where he is from, Midtown, Memphis. There are a few stories that he raps about such as his mother finding matches and presuming that they were for illegal use or his first few introductions to beats and music. He even mentions how much his hometown means to him. Build maintains his summer theme while telling his own story, which doesn’t often happen with these sort of beach vibe songs.
“Slalom”, which was released on Healy’s SoundCloud almost a year before the album was put out, is his first released single off Subluxe. The song outlines all the ways that Healy copes with the everyday monotonous responsibilities that people often tell him he has to do. He talks about how it’s getting harder for him to pretend to enjoy things like school. Healy is constantly building a relatable bridge between his listeners in ways that allow people to connect to him. College students, in particular, know what it’s like to want to enjoy life, but feel jaded by responsibilities.
“Butternut” is where the extension of melody comes in from the intro. Healy brings back the every day sounds like a train and iPhone Messenger and includes them seamlessly throughout the slow-paced, electric piano. “Butternut” feels like an intermission and gives you a break from the assortment of sounds from the previous songs. The real focus lies in the metaphors that are so cleanly hidden that you almost don’t realize he’s opening up again about his life. You really need to dig into the lyrics to feel the same emotion Healy has when you hear him step out of recording room on this track.
Skeletons in my closet make a cemetery looking kinda average
Imma bring flame to matches
Rolling stones to mosses
and a fame to average
And a tape to the cautious.
– “No Vacation/Outside” Healy
“No Vacation/Outside” pulls the song in two different directions with a melodic break about 3:20 into the song. Healy conveys his battles with love, talking about all the things he would do to get over his big decision. He later labels this as his decision to not have a love life while he is making music going as far as to call music and women “side chicks”. He’s making a bold choice to pick just music until he has more room in his life for love. The second half of the song almost serves as advice to himself, while the first half is how he should look forward and keep his chin up.
Skywalk like Michael
I ain’t gotta use the force with it
Put the sidewalk on vinyl
Ran the track like Forest did.
– “Dem My Dogs” Healy and Trapo
“Dem my Dogs” is a song that pays homage to the friends that he keeps close to him but also talks about how the friends that held him back he had to let go. This is also the only song on the album that has another rapper, Trapo, get his own verse. Interestingly enough in a display of their friendship Healy seems to tag Trapo in lyrically, and towards the end of his verse, Healy builds off of his friend.
“Grape Soda” is a well-crafted love song where Healy questions himself and wonders whether the love in his life is positive or negative. His poetic metaphors about who she is and her personality are portrayed in ways that show that he loves this girl, but he also talks about the things that she does that make him second guess the love. He is sort of making a pros and cons list to better himself.
“Looking like God” is a cool look into Healy’s thoughts on the album. It begins with the instrumentation played softly in the background while he and his friend talk about what they feel when listening to it. It’s very meta. Suddenly a stanza bursts through and it starts to become clear that we’re coming towards the conclusion of Subluxe.
Why the future so much closer than it feels
On my heels aye
Wear a Jesus piece for cross appeal
What the deal, aye
– “Chaparral” Healy
“Chaparral” doubles down to reinforce the idea that Healy needs to get away from responsibility so that he can make the music that he wants to. He provides the feeling of what it would be like to walk around Chaparral, California. He speaks to how anchored he feels by his hometown and how that interferes with his love of California and the oceans.
If the album felt as if Healy was bringing you on a transcendent journey, by the time you get to “Python” you will truly feel elevated. He begins the song by saying,
Got these past lives
In the back of my mind
Tryna ride a fine line
– “Python” Healy
The entire feeling of the song moves you through different Healys and how he’s changed since his time making music. He sets the album up perfectly for its close with “Unwind.”
“Unwind” the second Single and the last track on Subluxe leaves you with what the album has been fueling you with the entire time. Healy has been hard at work, bettering himself and trying to make music, so much so that he is starting to damage his sleep schedule. The chorus sounds like an exclamation more than a statement. All he’s trying to do is unwind and one of the ways that he can do that is through music and this album. If anything, Healy has proven his dedication to reflection and hard work which definitely makes Subluxe deserve a listen.