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New American Songbook

Vince Staples, 'FM!' | NAS


The new album from Vince Staples, ‘FM!’, picks up pretty much where he left off three albums ago with ‘Summertime ‘06’. Back then, summer was a malevolent season, at times even Lovecraftian--the heat of the season was an alien occupation, inspiring desperate acts. On ‘FM!’, a kind of truce has been achieved. Summertime and its corresponding themes aren’t quite as hostile, and while Staples’ narrative continues to brilliantly interweave abject tragedy with humor and moments of credible humanity, he seems like he’s having a little more fun, even if qualified.

Fittingly, the album begins with the premise that because it feels like summertime all the time, we should behave as if it were summertime all of the time. ‘FM!’ isn’t quite a manifesto for the age beyond our current slow-motion climate change apocalypse, but it does convey a sense of global-warming-chic that will only become more common as the deserts grow and the seas begin to boil off. The album was released right around the first cold snap here in Wichita. When I saw the snow on the ground, rather than recalling winter’s past, I wondered how many winters we had left. But listening to ‘FM!’, I’m reminded that regardless of however much longer this world has left we still have to find a way to live in it, and, occasionally, enjoy it.