Malik and Ryan executed an album appropriate for anyone who has experienced heartbreak in all forms.
“Facelift” – DEVELOPER920 via CUTXSEWN
“Alma” – DEVELOPER920 via CUTXSEWN
“X1” – DEVELOPER920 via CUTXSEWN
Prior to understanding what “Sheboygan” meant I had no clue what it was, but it is a city in Wisconsin.
“Sheboygan” derives from a Chippewa Indian word that means “passage or waterway between the lakes.” The meaning of the word in terms of this album is connecting the minds of Malik and Ryan.
The album starts off with a haunting prelude called “Roam”. The verse pierces a soft spot for those of us who have experienced obstacles in relationships that causes them to fail. “Let me just move on / All the things we lost yeah they’re gone,” brings us back to how it feels when you lose someone and returning to how everything once was is hard.
Transitioning into the brash and rhythmically adorned “Facelift”, Ryan gets reckless with his words toward a girl, describing her as being so fake with her caked face full of makeup, knock-off fits and fake tits that she might as well get a facelift.
On “Alma”, things cool down as Malik serenades us with “I don’t wanna lose you baby, I don’t wanna move too crazy.” The track is named after Alma Elson, a character from Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie Phantom Thread and also serves as one of the many references toward the duo’s background in filmmaking.
“2001” is a track that creates a sensation as if you’re cruising through space alone with no one else around. “I picture you in less / But want to see you more / I’m torn, the film is duplicating / The film is duplicating, yeah”, earmarks the filmmaking background of Malik and Ryan once again.
“2001” Official Music by DEVELOPER920
An additional soft sided track is “Self Destruction” with a beat and subtle “I miss you” caressing the chorus at the end which is followed by “Besides You”, an intricate and spacious sounding song.
Revisiting the dark side of relationships, is “Filthy”,resonating lust and absurd behavior, but builds up into a logical headspace questioning why things aren’t the way they used to be between two lovers.
The track opens with Ryan muttering “I ain’t love nobody no more,” and takes us through a sexually driven narrative in the first verse. By the second verse, we hear “I don’t even know where you’re headed right now, huh / Every single time that we talk / Yeah, you’re real quiet / Why can’t you hit my line up like you did?”
This verse depicts the difficulty in getting back to when everything in a relationship just felt right, instead of feeling like a competition of who can hurt one another the most.
“This Far” is about reflecting on heartbreak and does a good job of presenting that jumbled sense of how things run in your head when you’re feeling so many emotions all at once.
“Cried Boys” is a spoken word recited by Northern Virginia-based poet Gelila Mekonnen. Mekonnen says, “I got my Alma stitched in my breast pocket, and my Johanna drowning in chrome”, referencing Phantom Thread.
Ryan provides background on the verse stating, “In this line, I’m using the two characters Alma and Johanna [from the movie Phantom Thread] as a symbol for my true love and my past love. My true love is close to my heart and will forever be woven into my life, while my ex is more like an expensive car covered in chrome: beautiful and has value, yet easily replaced.”
The reference is candid and powerful, revealing how he feels toward two people in his personal life. It is admirable to be sincere and open, especially in a time when everyone would rather sweep their emotions under the rug than be honest about them.
The album concludes with “X1” and embraces the theme of learning how to love while growing up at the same time, which is something most of us can relate to.
Overall, Malik and Ryan executed an album appropriate for anyone who has experienced heartbreak in all forms. With references to films, unique productions and from-the-heart lyrics, its safe to say that Sheboygan successfully earns to be heard.
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