It feels like ages passed in anticipation for Dominic Fike’s debut full-length. The artist confirmed the record back in January 2019 and the hype that formed around was well-grounded. Fike is an artist with rich experience in the music world the pique of which was the 2018 EP Don’t Forget About Me, Demos – a collection of songs ensuring the artist an express ticket to stardom as well as a solid base of dedicated followers.
For all of us who saw the potential and got enchanted by his charisma and unforced musical expression the full-length What Could Possibly Go Wrong was something to eagerly look forward to. It is finally here and it wouldn’t feel right to skip a proper talk about it.
There is a special type of energy around Dominic Fike. Addiction is a given considering his easy-going beats and instrumental build-up combined with vague lyrics which probably only the artist knows the full meaning of.
Despite that, the emotion of his music is easy to read and just as easy to get contaminated with – he quickly grabs listeners from their world and transports them to his own reality which is anything but the cliché rockstar non-stop fun.
Listen to What Could Possibly Go Wrong (and appreciate this beautiful cover)
What Could Possibly Go Wrong is a kickass debut full-length. The whole album is a personification of Dominic Fike not only capturing his essence but also the meticulous details of his personality and the depth of his haunting concerns.
The record is packed with a variety of topics not limited to one specific element. Fike talks about the things that seem to be troubling his mind and soul in such a way he makes it look like something completely natural.
This includes love-related themes gravitating both towards passionate romance and pure lust, his experience with the life-changing reality of sudden success as well as other personal contemplations that are circulating in his head. The artist adds personal examples, hidden references, clever wordplay, and strong symbolism in all of that to make the record strictly his.
One simple line of lyrics and a pleasant instrumental is all this track needs to tell you everything you need to know
But that is not all there is to it. The well-constructed lyrical content is complemented by Fike’s trademark sound. Ultra-rhythmic simplified instrumentals and beats with alt/indie, almost lo-fi, nature accompany most songs and go well with the artist’s heartfelt singing. Fast-paced hip-hop explosions are not missing as well with several songs featuring unexpected switches from relaxed and mellow towards sharp and quick rhythms.
The artist definitely managed to preserve his recognizable essence and expand on it in a magnificent way. Playing around with different sounds and production is clearly visible and songs get deeper unveiling just as much as Fike has decided we need to know about his private life. The progression from the preceding EP is undeniable and beyond satisfying.
I’m not gonna let anyone down, for sure, I don’t think anyone’s gonna be let down by it. I think they’re gonna be really happy with it. It will be exactly what they’re supposed to get.
Looking for a skydiving soundtrack? Here you go.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong’s tracklist doesn’t follow an arrangement based on themes. Instead, songs swiftly switch between motifs with a gradual progression in sound which brings a sense of diversity and thrill.
Come Here sets the start of the album perfectly well. The confident intro instrumental makes it a good opener and what follows in terms of build-up and lyrical expression makes the song one of the catchiest on the record.
It introduces one of the main themes in the album which is yet to get fully expanded later on. Fike pays attention to lust and physical attraction under the sound of true alt-rock with the appropriate catchy progression. The not-too-serious-but-thought-provoking-and-very-much-real vibe that the artist usually carries everywhere is well-expressed making listeners sure this is a Dominic Fike record they are listening to.
Later during the album, Fike will continue the contemplation about lustful thoughts and desires. Chicken Tenders, for example, reintroduces the topics and develops it further with more personal details and a stronger note of romance. Playful attitude illustrated with great wordplay and raw emotion is also part of the track and hints that love will take a major spot in the record.
And this is exactly what happens, romance will frequently pop up during the course of the album. It is understandable why so much attention is given to this electrifying feeling and by living through certain experiences Fike naturally feels the need to express them accordingly.
Double Negative is a good example. Love and lust take form in the artist’s playful lyrics where a personal story unveils. The mixed feelings of fading love interest are well explained and this is just one of the examples of romance taking shape in What Could Possibly Go Wrong.
One of the songs featuring the most badass switches from mellow and gentle singing towards fast-paced hip-hop
Why, What’s For Dinner, Wurli, and Politics And Violence can all fall in the category of dissecting different love-related subjects.
Why is a very intimate song following Fike’s encounter with a certain woman and the collision between two different worlds. Perspectives on life as well as personal impressions and intimate conversations are exposed to give an insight on romance in an easy-going unforced way.
The outro instrumental fits the emotional dilemma explored in the song to perfection
What’s For Dinner takes an even closer look at the phenomenon as it discusses a current love affair the artist is going through. It includes a lot of contemplation getting more and more thought-provoking the deeper you look – a quality which applies to the majority of Fike’s music.
While falling in the same category, Wurli takes a completely different direction. It uses interesting metaphors and the classical for Fike outstanding symbolism to depict a toxic relationship and the destructive nature of such affairs.
Politics And Violence can easily be associated with romance as well despite the very abstract and unclear nature of the song. It features a lot of self-reflection and a great fusion of alt-pop with fast-paced hip-hop which is best seen in the radical switch at the second verse.
One of the tracks that hit hardest for me is Superstar S*it. It overflows with emotion and uses lo-fi instrumentals to make passive acceptance and nostalgia stand out.
The track looks at an ended relationship and puts reminiscences, dealing with the reality of loneliness, and missing someone painfully at the spotlight. The hardship in the described situation is evident and if you have ever been in those circumstances it would be impossible not to falter under Fike’s hard-hitting tune.
And you lost the things that brought us closer
We’re spread so thin
Sweet video fitting a bitter song, how does he do it?
I think a very important part of What Could Go Wrong is the one where Dominic Fike exposes the burdens and tribulations of his sudden success. Songs like Cancel Me and Vampire display the artist’s desire to go back to “normal life”, being able to spend quality time with his family, and escape the always watching eye of the surroundings in “the world of stars”.
Cancel Me easily takes one of the spots for the best songs on the record in my chart and shines bright with absolute rawness and unfiltered emotional expression. Fike exposes the stress that comes with sudden rise to fame and the overwhelming “LA Lifestyle” which he makes several references towards.
But I told Reed, “No more of this LA shit”
Last night keeps flashin’ and I can’t take it (One sec)
Shut that phone up ‘fore I break it (Hol’ up)
Take me home before I say it
Instead of being entangled in this he prefers to “get canceled”. This would allow him to genuinely be himself and get rid of the pressure of what a “star” should be doing. His longing for his family is also clear as he makes several remarks for that and puts it forward in the touching video of the song where we can see him spending time with his little sister.
Interesting wordplay and witty references are all over the song and that makes it even more attractive – the amount of detail and thought the artist has put in executing the piece are admirable.
Vampire is a song with similar power and the same thematic taken through a different situation. The whole song is one huge metaphor developed to completion using crafty storytelling.
It deals with fakeness and deceptiveness in humans and how some people use you for your status or financial power.
Part of the What Could Possibly Go Wrong tracklist also deals with strictly personal themes and displays Fike go back in time under melancholic alt-rock instrumentals. Songs like Good Game and Joe Blazey constitute of abstract lyrical expression but clearly display the emotional connection Fike has to the matters talked about.
Good Game sounds like it might concern a family member Fike has lost touch with and represents an imaginary dialogue in regards to the artist’s future and personal development. Despite the vagueness and many interpretations that can be derived, the song has a well-established emotional substance which is hard to neglect.
Joe Blazey can also be interpreted in several ways. It might be a metaphorical remark towards weed and the influences and impact it had on Fike since he was a kid. This would make the song one more symbolic masterpiece in his discography showcasing his lyrical mastermind and ability to combine touching lyrics with appropriate melodies conveying the right emotions.
Regardless of what it really is about, it is undeniable that the substance it is packed with is noteworthy.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong started with a stunning intro and the circle gets closed with an even better conclusion. The last track – Florida, serves as a sum-up of the entire record with its uncomplicated instrumental and laid-back nature featuring the beloved switch to faster hip-hop at the middle.
It represents a look back on Fike’s journey so far and makes a final note to listeners for this record.
Play this often, don’t take this shit too serious
Know you get insecure, wish I had more wisdom for ya
What Could Possibly Go Wrong impresses with the things that Fike is most proficient in – the natural honesty, rawness, and emotional substances packed with a unique, pleasant sound. The record seems like the natural follow-up to the 2018 EP that sent the artist to the world of fame.
His first full-length explores different moods and mindsets showcasing diversity and the flexible, experimental nature of the artist very well. Delivered with patience, precision, and humble confidence the album certainly is a delight to enjoy and an indicator that Fike has a lot more to offer than he initially teased in the Don’t Forget About Me, Demos and the following standalone singles.
It feels like he was purposely only teasing listeners and testing the waters of the type of music he was conspiring to properly explore. Now his creativity and contained emotions are finally unleashed making us understand the wait was worth it and teaching us that good results take time.
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