what could possibly go wrong
“I hope they cancel me (Why? Why?)
So I can go be with my family (Why? Why?)
So I can quit wearin' this mask, dawg (Damn)
Tell the people, "Kiss my ass, dawg" (Yeah, yeah)”
It’s hard to be enthusiastic about an artist’s debut album when even they sound as though they don’t want to be there. Only three songs into Dominic Fike’s “What Could Possibly Go Wrong”, the track ‘Cancel Me’ describes his desire to be cancelled so he can retreat from the music business back to a simpler life. Not only does it sound ridiculously disingenuous, but it also shines a light on just how uninspired much of the rest of the album really sounds. While on the surface many of the songs here are completely passable R&B/pop tracks, most of them are also underdeveloped and forgettable. And despite having a few really solid songs amongst the mess, the answer to the album’s title is unfortunately “quite a lot”.
But before I talk about all the stuff that has gone wrong, I’ll mention what aspects of the album actually work. For starters, the first two tracks of the record are pretty excellent, and make the intro an incredibly strong start. ‘Come Here’ is a gritty guitar driven song that is a near perfect introduction to the album, albeit too brief to fully develop itself. And the second track, ‘Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake) is a decent upbeat R&B pop song that, although suffering from the same brevity of the intro, is a really nice listen. After this, standouts include ‘Why’, ‘Vampire’, and the second-to-last song ‘Wurli’. A lot of the album sounds vaguely similar to what BROCKHAMPTON have been doing in the last few years, especially with their recent album “GINGER” which utilized a more acoustic sound. And in these tracks the style works fairly well, although they’re quite undeveloped unlike much of BROCKHAMPTON’s music. But the rich and upbeat sounds of ‘Why’ and ‘Wurli’ are still pretty solid, despite their clearly untapped potential.
But most of the album does not maintain this same quality. From ‘Cancel Me’ onwards, it’s extremely hard to properly enjoy much of what Dominic Fike has put out here. The fact that even the best tracks on the album seem undercooked makes the lesser tracks particularly boring and forgettable, and on occasion particularly bad. Dominic rarely delivers a good vocal performance, and although there are some pretty compelling production choices in the instrumentals, it hardly ever seems to properly come to fruition. The track ‘Chicken Tenders’ uses some Frank-Ocean-esque pitch effects on Dominic’s vocals, but severely lacks the same vocal ability Ocean has to contrast against it. On top of this, the lyrics on the album are fairly mixed. Apart from the extremely unlikeable ‘Cancel Me’, which is such a thematically bizarre inclusion for a debut album, there isn’t a whole lot that’s particularly notable lyrically. ‘Wurli’ is probably the most focused track on the album, and does a decent job at describing a toxic relationship, using relatively effective yet cliched imagery.
“Not like this, I'm not goin' out
This is not love, I'm a glorified doorstop
Stickin' my foot out for you
And that's not all I would do”
Although most of the album is simply unmemorable rather than strictly bad, there are some moments that truly stand out as just being pretty terrible. ‘Joe Blazey’ is one of the weirdest and laziest songs I’ve heard all year, and its second half is borderline unlistenable. While many of the tracks here sound underdeveloped compositionally, this song literally sounds unfinished, as if Dominic accidentally uploaded a demo version of the track. The vocals are atrocious, the instrumental is weak, and they sound like they’re being held together by sticky tape. It couldn’t come at a worse time in the album either, as the second half really needed something stronger to help clear up the abundance of weak patches. Thankfully the far better ‘Wurli’ comes immediately after, but by this point it's unfortunately too-little-too-late.
Despite ‘Joe Blazey’, most of the stuff on “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” is a pretty inoffensive and easy-listen. But it’s difficult to find many moments that genuinely work on the album. After listening multiple times to try and find something to latch onto, I can still only count on a single hand how many songs stood out from this 14-track record. Most of the album feels lazy, underdeveloped and simply pandering to current trends. And unfortunately, due to the fact that even Dominic doesn’t sound as if he wants to be making music only one album into his career, I don’t see myself getting too excited for his work in the future.
“I only showed up to tell you
Everyone at this party's a vampire
This ain't red wine
We're all food for the bloodsuckers”
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 21/08/20