Hit singles ‘3 Nights’ and ‘Phone Numbers’ put Dominic Fike on the Alt R&B map in the late 2010s. Fike established a soft, summery sound that appealed to fans of the hookier end of Brockhampton’s output. These songs were accessible without being obvious. Like many of the best acts he was brave enough to go into his debut album without bringing any of his previous hits with him – what could possibly go wrong?
This debut has been designed to paint Fike in a more obscure, bitter light. ‘Cancel Me’ comes across as an adolescent protest. The remnants of Fike’s former straight up cuteness clashes aggressively with his newfound misogynistic persona. Fike uses his platform to brag about breaking up with his girlfriend “to fuck a bunch of bitches that [he] couldn’t back then”. Later in ‘Politics & Violence’ we get another awkward, unsavoury flex, “we had sex then you cried, was the best in your life”. These lines do not help me warm to this decidedly average LP and will put off anyone who had been wooed by the promise of his previous, more inviting work.
These qualities come across as uneven given that for every one of these caustic tracks that leave a nasty taste in your mouth there is a sunny bop with frivolous harmonies. ‘Why’ is a bright, energetic song which proves he is much more effective when he is being a nice boy. It is overshadowed by the unpleasant flavour of the overall album. ‘Chicken Tenders’ almost goes too far the other way, a cloying, annoying single full of naff, misplaced hooks. He uses this song as another opportunity to talk about how good at sex he is (yawn).
Unfortunately What Could Possibly Go Wrong draws a line under any promise Fike previously displayed. He has failed to zone in on a particular sound or persona. He has gotten lost in all the options open to him, eventually gathering them up into a bland, unattractive heap.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong is out now on Columbia.