Khalid has been the artist to watch since his debut single “Location” in 2016. His first album American Teen, is probably the most relatable album for teens and members of Generation Z. Nominated for 5 Grammy awards this past year and with a top 10 collaboration (“Love Lies”), Khalid seems to be an unstoppable force. In his newest EP, Suncity, he clearly demonstrates why he’s one of the front runners in modern music. The most noticeable shift from American Teen to Suncity is his newfound range and stylistic divergence. In some songs, he finds himself in the pop realm, while in others he delves deeper into traditional R&B. He even takes a shot at Latin pop, which feels like a perfect acknowledgement to his Texan roots. Suncity, another name for El Paso, is the city where Khalid grew up. This EP pays homage to his hometown and reflects on his growth as an individual.
In “Saturday Nights,” a song about a girl who has a bad relationship with her parents, Khalid’s vocals soar to new heights. He shows off his falsetto in the last 30 seconds of the song adding a beautiful and urgent feeling to the song. This added layer makes the song shift in tone from sounding almost cheesy or cliche to a convincing declaration of his love and devotion to the girl he is serenading.
“Vertigo” is where Khalid most shines. On the first song of the album, Khalid shows his most thematic growth. It’s a fitting song for anyone who feels lost as they transition from youth to adulthood. It’s his most self-reflective song and feels perfect for an EP dedicated to his hometown. In this track, Khalid lays out many rhetorical question which stimulate the audience and himself to reflect upon their own journeys: “Are we alive? Or are we dreaming?” He asserts that he often feels like he has vertigo as life goes so fast it seems like it spins around him. The urgency in his consistent questioning gives his audience a lot to think about and addresses the importance of living in the moment.
Tracks like “Better” and “Suncity” feel perfect for the radio. They both discuss being so infatuated witth someone that they take you away from reality. Although he diversifies in his Latin pop blend in “Suncity,” the songs don’t give the emotional depth that might be expected. However, the catchiness of these songs will most likely make them the most popular songs of his EP.
Overall, Khalid’s sophomore project feels too thematically similar to his older music. While I am not disappointed in his efforts, I was hoping for something that cuts deeper than this EP. Even if his lyricism has not matured, it’s clear that his vocals have. Leaving the themes aside, the sound and perfect blend of pop and R&B make this work a great standalone EP worthy of late night drives and multiple replays.