Atlanta is a city musically revered and known for hard-hitting Southern hip-hop and tumultuous trap music. However, this bustling metropolis also has a softer, more poetic side to it.
Musicians Curtis Fields and Phil Jones are familiar with this rather subtle side of their hometown. Through the fusion of their songwriting skills, they formed The Pheels and set out in search of sounds that are warmer and more atmospheric. The result of the R&B duo’s efforts is their recently released debut EP likewise, out now for listeners to enjoy and explore.
Pheels Take R&B to the Next Level
The EP’s opener “Turn Me Up” starts off with fast, rapid-fire rhymes from Fields and Jones. After this, a psychedelic soundscape is unleashed that gives a spacey, atmospheric feel to the song. Its rhythmic backbone consists of pulsing basslines and steady, seamless drum and cymbal loops.
On top of this fluid, flowing rhythm are blaring synth riffs, orchestral string samples, and euphonious synth melodies. Also worth noting are the duo’s light, haunting vocals glossed over this track like powdered sugar on beignets.
Another memorable track is “The Heartbreaker,” an R&B ballad. With somber piano chords, resonant drums and hi-hat cymbal taps, and loud, heavy synth sounds, this song seeks to drown its listeners with pleasant, ethereal noise.
Augmenting its ethereal mood are the melodic, echoing vocals from Fields and Jones. Meanwhile, lyrics like “You don’t really want my love / All you want to do is fuck / Tell me why you want my trust” immediately reveal the song’s primary focus: unrequited love and crushed affections.
The next track “Cannonball” opens with a bouncy, pulsating bassline juxtaposed to syncopated hi-hat cymbal crashes and drum loops. Intersecting this cohesive rhythm are reverberant, swooshing synth flourishes that resemble aspects of shoegaze rock.
At the same time, soulful, wistful vocals glide effortlessly between the rhythm and synth flourishes like wind through a window. Past 2:40, as the vocals disappear, deep, groove-laden synth riffs take over the song and create a darker tone before it concludes with a fade-out.
As for the EP’s closing track “Don’t Play Yourself,” it’s coated from start to finish with layers of intricate, congruous synth sounds. They coalesce together so suavely that it’s easy to get lost within their languorous strides.
Floating above them are Fields and Jones’ gossamer, broody vocals which have an eerie, somewhat ghost-like quality attached to them. Overall, the entire song possesses a sonorous, meditative mood. As it comes to an end, the sound fades away in a manner akin to a diminishing whisper.
With their debut EP likeWise, The Pheels display a stirring blend of hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music unlike any other R&B group currently making music. The only question left remaining is when their debut full length comes out.