Puma Blue’s melancholic meld of organic live instrumentation and skeletal beats is set to reach its widest audience to date when he releases his debut album In Praise of Shadows on February 5 (Blue Flowers). The hotly-tipped vital young talent, who has amassed over 70 million streams on his EP releases, picked up fans including BTS and Clairo, and been deemed “the don of London’s hottest underground scene” (i-D) shares a new preview of his debut today with “Opiate.”
“Opiate” kicks into gear with a raw break beat, with vocals that call to mind a key inspiration: Jeff Buckley. Soft punches of sax help to create this rare swirl of R&B, lo-fi pop and neo jazz, Puma Blue repeating, “I must be losing my mind,” in the refrain.
Watch the “Opiate” video here: https://youtu.be/CjfDgxiajMQ
And read more at Complex, which deemed Puma Blue a "prodigious talent with greatness in his sights": https://www.complex.com/music/2020/11/premiere-puma-blue-opiate
Puma Blue, real name Jacob Allen, explains:
“‘Opiate’ was the last song I wrote for the album, it was probably only a few weeks before I finished it. It’s about learning to love yourself, despite finding yourself dreaming of someone from your past and wondering why they resurfaced when you were so sure you’d left them behind. It makes you realise that you still have some healing to do.
Musically I was really inspired by UK garage and 2000s-era Timbaland. I based the song around the keyboard loop given to me by my friend Alex Burey. I tried to make the chords around it feel like waking from a deep dream, which is where the title came from.”
The accompanying video, inspired by photographer Cecil Beaton’s iconic portrait of the pioneering Chinese-American film star Anna May Wong which Jacob added to his visual moodboard whilst making the album, sees Racer Pictures (director/producer duo Jack Walker & Alvy Vincent) lovingly recreate that visual inspiration. The video, shot entirely on 16mm film, is an elegant yet understated visual motif that’s just as compelling now as it was when Beaton captured the original in 1929.
Puma Blue has shared two additional selections from the forthcoming album. Says Billboard, about “Velvet Leaves”: “although it swims in a distinct type of sorrow...Puma Blue processes that pain with a hypnotic tenderness.” “Snowflower” features contributions from Big Thief/Bon Iver collaborator Andrew Sarlo, and a sample from musique-concrete pioneer Pierre Henry. MTV declares that Puma Blue "goes full wraith” on the track.
In Praise of Shadows is available to pre-save or pre-order here.