Kodie Shane: Young Heartthrob Album Review
These days, so many major-label rap and rap-adjacent records depend on vibes—musical moods that feel just out of reach, though they frame sonic environments meant for immersion. Kodie Shane is the latest Atlantan whose music embodies this contradiction, as she steadily rides the line between “singer” and “rapper” over beats and melodies that possess a purply, psychedelic drift. “She like it when I rap, but love it when I sing to her/She can’t get enough,” Shane brags on “Sing to Her,” a standout of her debut LP for Epic, Young HeartThrob. Her voice often sounds like running water, an unbroken melodic stream flowing above production that radiates a low-level glow. “I was thinkin’ about you last night/But now the sun’s up,” she emotes over a fluttering guitar loop on “Thinking Bout U,” a lovelorn lyric that captures this music’s nocturnal warmth.
Young HeartThrob is the purest and most effective distillation yet of Shane’s hybrid aesthetic. Despite her affiliation with the Sailing Team of mush-mouthed cavity-rap impresario Lil Yachty, her album is refreshingly devoid of features aside from fellow genre-blenders Trippie Redd and TK Kravitz. Otherwise, Young HeartThrob showcases her unabashed romanticism and elastic approach to melody. “High Speeds” frames her voice with barely there echo, its chorus hovering over wavy synths and a knocking hi-hat/kick-drum combo that seems to create three dimensions. On “Hiatus,” she ruminates on dreams of Vegas weddings and a relationship put on pause, breaking into a pleasing “Ooh, ooh” over squishy bass and warped chimes.
Much of Young HeartThrob focuses on lost love and unrequited pining; women are lusted after, visited in secret. (“Queer as fuck, by the way, and happy about it,” she defined her sexuality in a Red Bull documentary.) They are the object of Shane’s affection to the point that, when she starts discussing the size of watch faces during “High Speeds,” she cuts herself off, declaring “Fuck it.” By embracing her own perspective, Shane sidesteps the miserabilia that’s accompanied so much lovelorn hip-hop and R&B over the past few years. Over the glistening theme and stuttering drums of “Pulling Up,” she asks a potential paramour if she should drop by “when nobody’s home,” later confiding, “She just want me all on her body/Promise me that you won’t tell nobody.” She flips the woman-on-my-arm conceit that anchors “Party” by flatly stating, “Let’s run some errands.”
These mostly romantic musings play out over wispy beats provided by longtime collaborator and Atlanta fixture Matty P. He adds an occasional extra element—the muted bombast of “End Like That,” a vague move toward tropical pop on “Long Time”—to shift the scenery. Though the production trends toward contemporary hip-hop’s druggier-sounding side, Shane cuts through the melodic fog with her flickering voice.
If there’s one thing Young HeartThrob lacks, it’s obviousness—a big, distinctive single or a roiling party-starter that would reach beyond late-night drives and home listening. Given the record’s atmosphere, it’s unclear if that’s what Shane even wants, anyway. The murky flow and subtle sounds of Young HeartThrob fit her voice and romantic perspective like a big, fluffy coat: soft, comfortable, and enveloping in a way that makes it hard to envision anything more.