Dance music is not just about filthy bass lines and sick drops. Though big-room and trap dominate the scene, there’s a glorious, under-appreciated side of dance music that doesn’t demand your attention, but deserves your respect.
Nick Chiari aka Grabbitz has only been around for a year, but has been producing since he was 10. After winding his way through alternative rock and even rap, he eventually settled into dance music, where he became a one-man show. His latest work, Better With Time, was written, performed, and produced almost entirely on his own, an incredible feat worth mentioning.
Though it’s only seven tracks long, Better With Time has enough depth to be considered as a full LP. Grabbitz begins with “Hope,” an instrumental intro that feels like it belongs tucked away in a dramatic film’s score. Like each song on the record, Grabbitz does well to evoke a different emotion, but “Hope” is the most emotive of the set, as it generates an feeling within that’s so much more than just hope.
Almost immediately, the tide changes and Grabbitz delivers arguably the best track on the EP, the epynonymous “Better With Time.” It sounds the most fitting for a label like Monstercat, as it takes the quickened tempo of drum n bass, the unexpected twists of glitch hop, and Grabbitz’s dissonant harmonies to produce a tune that is a serious earworm. Even as I continued to the rest of the EP, I found myself backing up and listening to this track over and over as lyrics like “If life a movie/it’s always so boring/where is the story/I hope it gets better with time” stayed with me well after I finished listening.
As noted in his interview with Your EDM early this week, Grabbitz prefers to call his work “Alternative Dance Music” as it doesn’t fit into any conventional genres these days. That’s evident in “Make You Mine,” as the track gets you moving without following any traditional guidelines. The musical journey continues with “Intermission,” another cinematic interlude which features Nick’s talents as a drummer this time around. In fact, each song highlights a different ability, some being more subtle than others.
In the second half of Better With Time we see the true value of what alternative dance music sounds like. Grabbitz’s vocals are reminiscent of acts like The Postal Service and Passion Pit, but adds more soul with riffs on the record’s lead single “Float Away,” which premiered last month. Closing things out is “Cold” ft. LAYNE, which stands out most obviously because of the duet with a female vocalist, but also because it has that familiar synth-trap break that was so popular in 2015.
Overall, Better With Time has a strong case to be one of the best bodies of work this year from any genre or artist. As so many new producers try to let current trends shape their sound, Grabbitz fights against the grain. He is truly a pioneer of the alt-dance scene, creating a variety of different sounds to make one cohesive record. Be sure to pickup a copy of Better With Time, out now on iTunes courtesy of Monstercat.