GTA’s ‘Good Times Ahead,’ the maturation of post-genre electronic [Album Review]
The release of an artist’s debut album guarantees two certainties: reconfiguration of the creative standards that the artist was previously held to, and elevation of the stakes, higher than they’ve ever been. From concept to completion, a full-length album is a challenging journey and an impressive feat to look back on with relief… for most. For Julio Mejia and Matt Toth, however, the good times have just begun to roll. No looking back, it is strictly Good Times Ahead from here.
Since the Miami duo’s emergence in 2010, “death to genres” has always been the motto. They’ve never given themselves the comfort of having one sound to lean on; never just one single style to fall back on — which had made them the catalyzing crossover act that fans from the club scene to the festival circuit have grown accustomed to.
When it comes to their debut album, the pair seem to treat that mantra with either disregard or embrace — a perspective that can change between listen-throughs — putting together a patchwork of urban sounds that inherently still touts their unrelenting message, though in a more reserved, perhaps matured way. Instead of the raised-fist rally cry that GTA’s tag once invoked, Good Times Ahead opts rather to murmur its “death to genres” credo quietly in passing and goes back to sipping its beer.
Check your preconceived notions about GTA at the door. Without the heavy drops and shifting big room bass that they’ve championed in the past, the duo showcase their range in perfectly unexpected fashion… without having to compete with a self-imposed typecast; Good Times Ahead manages to stay true to the group’s ethos with little trace of the attributes you’re already familiar with.
Good Times invites a handful of artists that share GTA’s forward-thinking, rule-breaking attitude in their own respective arenas. Vince Staples assists on the hypnotic hip-hop cut “A Lil Bit of This,” a record that manifests itself as one of the LP’s strongest selections, while Tinashe’s “All Caught Up” instantly makes the shortlist of GTA’s most noteworthy collaborations yet. “True Romance” finds the duo playing with a drowsy indie R&B composition alongside Jarina De Marco that stands out as one of the furthest strides they’ve taken on any release so far.
JWLS and Van Toth can be found in their truest form together with Imasu on “Contract,” with a bouncy twerk-ready club cut that holds a mirror up to GTA’s bold, contemporary aesthetic. “Illuminate” is one of the few solo offerings on Good Times, concluding commendably as a vibrant, future bass cruiser that polishes off the LP on a celebratory high note.
The duo’s debut album doesn’t feel much like a debut — more times than not, it feels more like a release (and successful unveiling) thats just for the fans; it’s more for their day ones. The 10-track project has hip-hop leaning appeal, seductive R&B and buzzing future bass, but it doesn’t sound like the “death to genres” duo that you discovered in your dorm room — and therein lies the record’s self-titled draw. It isn’t about the journey up to this point, now that Good Times Ahead is complete clearly GTA have their sights set now on what lies ahead.
Good Times Ahead is out now; purchase here.
GTA is taking Good Times Ahead on tour; see date, locations, and purchase tickets here.