‘Loose Ends’ is Illy’s second release for 2020
Confined to his Melbourne apartment, the last few months mark the longest Melbourne-born, Australian rapper Illy (the moniker of Al Murray) has gone without performing live since before releasing his first album, Long Story Short, back in 2009.
In a bid to keep his mind sharp and his insatiable appetite for touring at bay, the effects of Victoria’s lockdowns have seen Illy rebirth his iconic ‘Friday Flips’ series, share the now-iconic track ‘Parmas in June’ for triple j’s Quarantunes series, as well as put the finishing touches on his forthcoming sixth album.
The successor to 2016’s Two Degrees and 2013’s ARIA certified gold album Cinematic, we don’t have a lot of information about it, but if his latest release is anything to go by, we could be seeing Illy’s best record yet.
In what could be described as one of the best collabs of the year, the genre-defying artist has teamed up with fellow Aussie favourite G Flip for fresh single, ‘Loose Ends’, which dropped earlier this month.
Equipped with all the energy and punch you’d expect from an Illy release, the anthemic and catchy track brings vulnerabilities to the fore thanks to his cinematic style of songwriting, lyrical bravado and musical prowess. Penned on a writing trip in Darwin last year alongside long-time producer Cam Bluff, this tune sees Illy flawlessly deliver a new take on the sound he is so well-known for, as he delivers lyrics that deal with the growing up, loss and accepting that things don’t always go how they do in movies.
“It’s not about any one person in particular, it’s just the experience of growing up,” Illy explains on the track.
“It’s the relationships, and people, and times that you go through and realising that you’re not able to bring everything with you as you grow up. It’s about looking back at different moments in time where you think ‘this is going to be forever’, then you keep moving and you realise that it’s not and it’s okay… it’s just a bittersweet part of life.”
Thought-provoking, vulnerable and oozing effortless cool, ‘Loose Ends’ is a tasty mix of pop-melodies, boom-bap, and high-energy beats, championed by G Flip’s boundless energy and husky yet silky smooth vocals, all woven together neatly with smooth production.
“I loved the song from the first day that I wrote it, and then this year I sent it to G [Flip], and she put her vocals on it and I fell in love with it all over again,” he says. “She has an incredible voice, she’s a great performer, and she just takes it up a few levels.
“Even though she didn’t come into it straight away, I can’t imagine the song without her now.”
Joining the ranks of his ARIA Platinum single ‘Then What’, ARIA Gold single ‘Lean On Me’ featuring Robinson, fan favourite ‘Codes’, and the quick-spitting ‘Last Laugh’, Loose Ends stands as a genuine expansion of Illy’s musical palette that we’ve seen continue to evolve and reshape over the last decade, partly credited to the array of unique artists he works with.
A revered collaborator, Illy is adept at uncovering new dimensions to well established, household names. Some of his best collaborative tracks over the years include ‘Catch 22’ featuring English singer Anne-Marie, triple-platinum ARIA charting ‘Papercuts’ featuring Vera Blue, ‘Oh My’ performed with singer Jenna McDougall from the Sydney pop-punk act Tonight Alive, ‘Hazard to Myself’ with American artist Sir the Baptist, ‘It Can Wait’ with Melbourne’s Owl Eyes, and ‘Cigarettes’ with the piano fiend and enigmatic genius singer-songwriter Hue Blanes, among many others.
‘Loose Ends’ is the latest to join that eminent list, and having worked on this upcoming record for the past four years, we’re pretty confident it won’t be the last of Illy’s genre-bending creations.
“I’ve never made the same album twice,” he says. “I know a lot of people have and a lot of people find their niche and stick to that, but I’ve always wanted to push myself and I’ve done that again with this album. It’s not a complete change; it’s not a jazz album, it’s still an ‘Illy’ album but it’s not the same.
“I’ve always been fortunate that the people who have liked my music have supported and followed me wherever I’ve taken it. I hope that continues, but it’s always nervous-racking releasing music; you’ve poured your heart and everything into it and I just really hope people like it.”
Prime your ears, it’s clear Illy’s forthcoming debut album is going to be a sonic melting pot and we’re here for it.
In the meantime, check out ‘Loose Ends’ below.