When you’ve been writing for as long as I have, it’s easy to stick to what you know, become complacent, cynical even, and stuck in your ways. For that reason, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone every so often, to review something you might otherwise have ignored. Sometimes this pays off, and you find something truly special. Other times, not so much. The latest EP Darkest Days from grime artist Tad falls somewhere in between the two.
Taken on its own merit, each track on offer here has a lot to love about it. From the straight up grime aggression of the opening offering ‘Darkest Days’, to the Faro-flavoured ‘Despedida’ featuring Beatriz Correia from Tad’s native Portugal, each track showcases the diversity of Tad as a musician, whilst subverting any expectations of what a grime instrumental needs to sound like.
The issues comes when one listens to the EP in its entirety. With the aesthetics of each track varying significantly, the record harbours more of a mixtape feel than a cohesive body of work; the hyped-up ‘Showman’ feeling at odds next to the slower and more introspective ‘Seeking’ for instance.
Of course, this doesn’t make it a bad record. The lyricism on display from Tad, not to mention his command of language and flow make him it an impressive listen, whilst his willingness to think outside the box as far as his production and instrumentals go is something that allows him to stand out from his contemporaries and should absolutely be commended.
That said, the record’s stand-out moment might be its most stereotypically grime offering. Closing the record out, the Mic Righteous featuring ‘A Tad Reckless’. Three minutes of aggressive hyping and some of the best bars on offer across the whole five tracks, it’s Tad closing things with style, and making sure that despite a handful of hiccoughs, Darkest Days cements him as one of the most versatile grime artists out there.