R&B, in the past few years, has become such a vast genre in the public eye that it could refer to anything, which means you could change practically everything about your sound — the melodic phrases, the lyrics, the production — and still end up being labeled (you guessed it!) R&B. Other artists have already denigrated the term as a cop-out that has more racial implications than musical ones, a second, not-so-stigmatised cousin to the now more-scrutinised ‘urban.’ The box, while it might have expanded, remains limited nonetheless, a sort of all-encompassing net that doesn’t care what by-catch becomes entangled and killed.
For better or for worse, Willum Maindo might be ready to break free too. Already on the cusp of something more, Pretty retires Freudian-esque guitars for trap beats and Daft Punk-vocoder echoes, a sonic 180° turn that already makes the lush-voiced singer hard to pin down in one word. At a time when ‘genre-bending’ has perhaps become overused, to the point where any and all new artists seem to exist in a liminal space between and defying categorisations, Maindo seems to truly take the ethos to heart for a song that fits just as well for a shower-singing session as it does for a late-night drive, both a brazen declaration of love (“You’re so special, I want you”) and a subtle flirt from the driver’s seat: “If I know your home, I’ll get there faster, baby.”