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First Play: Too Attached, Angry

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Andrea Warner

With its new six-song EP, Angry, Canadian pop/R&B duo Too Attached not only sets fire to inequality and inequity, but it holds a dance party in the flames.

You can stream Angry a week before its release in the CBC Music player. Pre-order Angry here.

If the title of the album wasn’t clear enough, the press release makes no bones about the motivation of Too Attached siblings, multidiscipline artist Vivek Shraya and producer/beatboxer Shamik Bilgi: Angry is a “celebration of racialized anger.” As a concept record theme, it sounds intense — and it is — but it’s also vibrant, perfectly vicious and vitally contemporary.

The titular track opens the album, a song that’s equal parts frenzied workout mix and political club banger. Most of the songs owe something to the music of famed pop/R&B siblings, Janet and Michael Jackson. This works well as a framework for the lyrical content, which is where Angry blazes so brilliantly. “I don’t know how long I can keep it contained/ Because it’s either fire or being erased,” Shraya sings, before warning, “I’m so done biting my tongue/ Polite just keeps you safe.”

This isn’t a subtle collection of songs, and Too Attached does not have time for all the people who shake their heads but sit on their hands. The blistering and biting “Bare Minimum” is an electro-pop call-out that takes no prisoners. “I have a gay son/ I have a black friend/ I’m such a good mom/ I’m such a great friend” they sing before sliding into the killer chorus, “I could do so much more/ but I want a pat on the back for doing the bare, bare minimum.”

There are few pop bands making music as explicitly political and passionate as Too Attached, and their visibility is crucial, even more so with a song like “Grateful,” which is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring. It’s easy to imagine Too Attached directing their words to racialized and LGBTQ youth when they sing, “There’s nothing more dangerous than your confidence.” But what follows is also a brutal reminder, especially as hate crimes are on the rise both in Canada and in the US: “When they show you kindness, don’t be grateful/ And don’t let yourself get comfortable.” The track closes with almost a minute of repetition as Shraya sings, “Come into your power” over and over. It’s a command that becomes a mantra that, it's hoped, becomes self-actualization.

These songs might not be destined for the charts — the artistic and personal risks that Shraya and Bilgi take in their music are very real. Angry earns its place among Canada’s most incisive, radical and galvanizing albums, and it doesn’t just deserve to be heard, we need to listen to it and make space for other artists to follow suit.

Hang out with me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner

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