Peak is a solid debut from 21 year old Choker. A Detroit native, Choker has produced an album that will inevitably draw comparisons to Frank Ocean, although you can also hear the influences of slacker pop sounds like Mac DeMarco.
With no guests, Choker has created songs erratic in structure, with varying hooks and verses chopping and changing throughout. Mixing rap, mumbles and singing, this could have easily sounded messy and unrealised, but Choker manages to meld it all together into one dreamy, undulating musical flow lasting throughout the album.
Mango (Mountain Version) opens proceedings with a melancholy sounding, half rapped, half spoken lament on relationships and depression, themes that carry throughout. The track ends with a lazy, poppy refrain, setting us up for the rest of the album. Mango is followed seamlessly by Brown Steel and Moksha. The latter is a joyous little song, where Choker shows his rapping abilities, changing flows between verses. With a super catchy hook and some great raps (rhyming “St. Peter’s Basilica” with “Nineveh”), the song showcases Choker’s appeal.
Although dipping back down for the beginning of Diorama, it picks back up half way through, in what sounds like a completely different track. This second half of Diorama is all African rhythm, cool synths and vocals playing around the drums; it’s kinda funky and uplifting. The extended outro breaks into possibly the best song on the album, El Dorado. It’s catchy as fuck and really showcases the dynamic nature of Choker’s vocal melodies. No verse sounds alike, and hooks come and go, only to reappear later. It’s a fun, sunny track. Who knew broken relationships and standing trial for grand theft auto could sound so much fun?!
Peak continues to chop and change with even more fervour towards the end of the album. The songs are still engaging, but aren’t as easily accessible, the obvious, catchy hooks missing. It’s still rewarding listening, you just have to dive a bit deeper, and it seems Choker flexes a bit more. The verses are often longer and the production often more spasmodic, but it still makes sense. The album ends where it began, a lament on relationships and depression.
It’s an interesting album in that laid back, seemingly nonchalant vocals can give way to beautiful, soaring falsettos. The music can do the same, meandering nowhere and then some big hook or funky rhythm can break through. They say younger generations have shorter attention spans, and this album definitely plays to that. Its biggest achievement is keeping it cohesive whilst never focusing on one melody or idea for too long.