Despite entering the scene fairly recently, Atlanta duo The Pheels are already making waves. Outside of the usual trap sounds we hear coming from Atlanta, they’ve opted for a far more laid-back sound—think Outkast if they were produced by Galimatias, with some Erykah Badu and Gnarls Barkley influence thrown in for good measure. The band, made up of musicians Curtis Fields and Phil Jones, was recently named The Guardian’s 107th Band of the Week, and were also featured in i-D. To top it off, they formally released their ethereal, R&B-drenched debut likeWise on July 20th. This album of spacey, seductive bedroom jams only serves to further solidifies The Pheels as a band to watch.
Opening track “Turn Me Up” boasts a high-energy rap section; such a lightning fast introduction might seem misleading in the context The Pheels are becoming known for were it not backed by a chugging, hypnotic melody. This kind of idiosyncratic fast-paced and slow-feeling atmosphere pervades the rest of the album, whether The Pheels are rapping over a grimy bassline (“Favorite Luv” feat. Jabbar) or floating through a smoky haze (“The Heartbreaker”).
The album was streaming on Soundcloud for about a month prior to its formal release—since then, bass-heavy “RNS” has accrued the most listens on Soundcloud. The true standout here, however, is “French Toast.” The psychedelic bedroom jam—featured on the third volume of Brooklyn DJ Kitty Cash’s mixtape, which has promoted the likes of Willow, Vic Mensa, and Dev Hynes (also known as Blood Orange)— features a wobbly bass line that snakes its way throughout the song and an extremely sexy, on-the-nose refrain: “how does it feel inside?” If it’s not the background music for rolling a joint, it’s a galactic, sexy slow jam; either way, The Pheels gets it right.
Fans of Frank Ocean, Gnarls Barkley, Alina Baraz & Galimatias, and Willow will definitely “pheel” this record; maybe it’ll keep the former fans thirst sated for a bit longer while Ocean puts out his sophomore album.Regardless of whether it slakes a thirst only Ocean can quench, this is a duo to watch, and their particular brand of stoner R&B is something to behold.