By: Vic Abreu
Oh man. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to chillwave. It’s been even longer since I’ve listened to chillwave that isn’t incredibly derivative. Firstworld’s new single Space renewed my hope for the genre.
The ambient neon glow that pervades Miami Beach’s every nook and cranny, the youthful cool of Wynwood, the 150 bpm hustle and flow of nighttime traffic in Coral Gables – it makes total sense that Firstworld is based in Miami; it’s a city ripe for chillwave. Space, released April 2018, may even be a nod to one of Miami’s most notorious nightlife institutions (“I’m going to Space tonight”). Very 305.
On first listen, Space is an earworm. The word infectious doesn’t do it justice. The song kicks in with a muted, but punchy 808 kick drum and doesn’t waste time dropping the bass hook on the listener. Production is what shines through most on the track, and frankly, it’s worthy of being talked about in the same breath as Neon Indian or Washed Out. The attack, release, and wobble hit just right in the notes of the melody. The synth pads are layered and fade out beautifully during the verse. The break before the outro lets the song explode in the most c h i l l manner possible. If you close your eyes while listening, you might even see red/purple mood lighting.
Lyrically, Space is more impressionistic than anything. Each verse functions as a sketch of a character; the first, a curious woman in high heels, the second, a drive down the highway and a man looking for a good time. Don’t expect a straightforward story here. The lyrics are meant to be felt rather than analyzed. Mood is the most important thing for the song (and I daresay most chillwave in general), and Firstworld absolutely nails it.
I found myself wishing there was an extended version. I settled for at least a couple replays instead. Space left me wishing for more Firstworld content (only 3 tracks on Bandcamp!). For now, I’ll fill the void with some Toro Y Moi. Keep an eye on them, I see Firstworld getting big in South Florida and possibly beyond.