Mura Masa (ft. NAO)
Release date: 2 August 2018

Mura Masa plays it safe on ‘Complicated’

The producer’s newest single just doesn’t quite reach the mark he’s set for himself with previous songs

Rising star Alex Crossan, aka Mura Masa, the British DJ and producer behind the hit single Love$ick (feat. A$AP Rocky), as well as collaborations with Charli XCX and Stormzy, has dropped his second single for the year: ‘Complicated’. The song is his second to feature singer-songwriter (and fellow Brit) Nao on lead vocals, following the 2015 single ‘Firefly’, which turned up on his self-titled debut album last year.

The track wastes no time getting to what fans of Mura Masa have come to expect (and love) – incredibly tight and meticulous production, a strong percussive emphasis – particularly in the tuned percussion arpeggios that open this song – and a sugar-sweet vocal line that locks in perfectly with the track both rhythmically and melodically. There are even some welcome surprises: a sunny guitar part that pops up now and then throughout the song; some horns hanging in the background leading up to the chorus. All the ingredients for a banger are there, but, sadly, Crossan doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head with this one.

In Mura Masa’s best tracks, the verses feel like an exciting appetizer to the main course that’s given to us in the chorus. There’s often some sort of substantial change to the instrumentation or overall sound of the track come the hook that hits exactly the right spot and gives the song a sense of progression. On ‘Complicated’, the chorus doesn’t feel distinct enough from what’s come before it to hit as hard as it could. This is at least partly due to the chord progression, which feels pretty predictable compared to some of the impeccable chord arrangement featured on Crossan’s previous singles. There’s also something to be said about the drum part, which stays firmly put in a dancehall groove (another slightly generic turn for the producer) for the entirety of the track, with not much by way of the flair or gusto that can usually be heard in the drums on a Mura Masa song.

There are definitely elements to love here – one of which being Nao’s melody on the chorus, though her vocal performance feels a little uncontrolled – and diehard fans of Mura Masa probably won’t be disappointed. Given the track’s simplicity and trendy influences, it could even help him amass a bigger audience. For the more casual listener, however, it’s not likely to do much.