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thayerperiod, 'Sheep in Wolf's Clothes'


Published November 10, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

thayerperiod, Sheep in Wolf's Clothes - COURTESY
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  • thayerperiod, Sheep in Wolf's Clothes

(self-released, digital)

Funny but true: When you express the fact that you're different, everyone can relate. It's one constant in the otherwise ever-changing music business. Such universal alienation is the unifying theme behind Sheep in Wolf's Clothes, the latest album from Burlington vocalist and producer thayerperiod. The project is a hot mess in the best possible sense, a short set with a huge range that demonstrates a lot of promising talent.

Like any young artist in the game right now, thayerperiod is Extremely Online, pushing his brand hard across half a dozen platforms. On YouTube and TikTok, he's built a name for himself by reverse engineering popular songs and rebuilding their beats from scratch in the digital audio workstation FL Studio. He's also a prolific recording artist in his own right, evolving a sound that straddles many genres but stays rooted in the melodic melancholy of emo rap.

Being such an earnest student of music production is a huge asset. Wild experimentation backed by actual expertise makes for an enjoyable and often surprising album. As grating as the relentless Auto-Tune can be, thayerperiod squeezes out a huge range of sounds from the effect, sculpting custom warbles to complement each carefully crafted beat. His lyrics range from confessional to abstract, often repeated as refrains while the beats stutter, stop and morph into something new.

Style occasionally overwhelms substance here. "Attic" is a lovely slow-burn track in which the vocals are so washed in robotized reverb that the lyrics become indistinguishable, more of a synth line than a lead vocal. And it still works. On tracks such as "OUTTHEWOODS," thayerperiod packs a long journey into less than three minutes, veering from a reggae-flavored intro into a monumentally icy pop ballad. Then it all breaks down into an outro that treats vocal glitches like a guitar solo.

The title track is another audacious stunner. With guest vocalists cnri and tip/toe, thayerperiod delivers a knockout ode to claustrophobic angst. Not content with perfection, he wraps it up with a spry, thumping house passage that sounds like it's straight out of the '90s. The confidence here is impressive — and justified.

The same hyperactive genre-smashing that makes his songs so interesting inevitably makes for a wildly inconsistent project. Post-trap R&B sagas chafe alongside up-tempo house movements and occasional binges of outright hardcore EDM, such as album closer "attic [jinz0 reprise]." Yet that's quite easy to forgive, since all of it is so smoothly executed.

Besides, his schizoid excess is kind of the point. There's no reason for a young artist to confine himself to one single lane, especially when his mad-scientist approach yields such rewarding results. If that creative journey makes for a dizzying listen along the way, well, such is art. It's clear that thayerperiod has both the means and the motive to make some very big noise in the near future. Remember the name.

Sheep in Wolf's Clothes is available on Soundcloud.