If you’ve not been formally acquainted by now, MNEK is a pop savant. A rhythm wunderkind. A young, bright beatmaster.
The UK multihyphenate has written and produced Top 10 hits for nearly five years, from The Saturdays‘ “All Fired Up” to Little Mix‘s “Wings” to Duke Dumont‘s “Need U 100%” to Oliver Heldens‘ “Gecko (Overdrive)” with Becky Hill to Karen Harding‘s “Say Something.” If you’ve hummed along to “Hold Tight” or “Living For Love” on Madonna‘s Rebel Heart or “Feels So Good” on Kylie Minogue‘s Kiss Me Once, you’ve already had MNEK in your head. When it comes to The Art Of Quality Pop, he just ‘gets it’ — and yet, he still isn’t old enough to drink in America. (Sorry to blow up your spot, MNEK.)
At the same time, he’s also a massively talented solo star: While writing for others, MNEK’s supplied several catchy, club-ready jams of his own, including the insane, key-changing “Every Little Word,” “Wrote A Song About You” and, most recently, his infectious, finger-snapping “The Rhythm.” They’re all undeniable tunes (choons) that make up the MNEK sound: Wailing vocals, hints of ’90’s R&B influences and nazzty beats.
As a result, it’s no surprise that MNEK’s long-awaited debut, the Small Talk EP, is a start-to-finish smash. Along with the aforementioned singles, there’s the utterly fierce, throbbing shape-shifter “More Than A Miracle” and “In Your Clouds,” which feels like a throwback to classic baby makin’ music, a la Marvin Gaye. (Nothing lawsuit-worthy…sit down, Gaye Estate.) Then there’s “Suddenly,” a sparse ballad woven almost exclusively out of layers of harmonies, as MNEK gingerly explores new territory in the dark.
“Can we afford to be a chord or are we just drifting melodies?” he ponders.
The whole set bursts at the seams; a kitchen sink of powerhouse vocals and rich production. And yet, there’s an underlying sense that this is only a small sampling of what MNEK still has to offer.
But enough with the small talk: Get to listening.
‘Small Talk EP’ was released on March 23. (iTunes)