It didn’t take a genius to identify Tyler Carter as far more than your stereotypical metalcore clean vocalist upon his rise to prominence with the ill-fated Woe, Is Me.
His smooth, dulcet tones were a world away from the piercing whine of many of his contemporaries, and even from the start he had a star quality that set him apart. Between ultra-contemporary R&B one-off solo singles and far more exciting new rock project Issues, he’s long since made a name for himself as the black sheep of the scene. If the latter outfit truly made their presence known at the start of last year with their stellar self-titled full length, Carter’s aiming to repeat the trick with Leave Your Love.
He’s always sounded far more comfortable embedded among crisp computerised percussion and pristine synths than clattering drums and downtuned guitars. This is an EP very much on trend – advance single ‘Georgia’ has all the silky sensuality of The Weeknd at his best, topped off by a gorgeous, female voice-accentuated hook. In a parallel universe that and the hopelessly accessible title track would be smash hits the world over. Much as he’s allowed to shine in Issues, Carter clearly revels in the opportunity to truly dominate songs here, throwing himself into a rapid-fire delivery over the drifting music of ‘So Slow’. His enormous vocal talent is enough to carry an EP like this with ease, each chorus immaculately crafted to impress the listener.
Many among the Issues fanbase may write this off as stretching too far into pop music for their tastes, though one draw might be the inclusion of part one of the ‘Tears on the Runway’ story, featuring like its sequel a beautiful guest spot from the very talented Nylo. The lyrical links between the two are carefully considered, balanced between connection and avoiding overt repetition. It’s a high point in the EP from a lyrical perspective, which sometimes finds itself mired in cliché and immaturity (see the questionable pop culture references on the admittedly catchy ‘Sophisticated’).
Musically too the Leave Your Love EP suffers from a kind of anonymity. It’s never less than spotless in its silky, glistening production values and layers of electronic sugar, but as such there’s little that helps it stand out from the myriad other collections of ice cool R&B filling the internet (and likely soon enough mainstream radio). Carter’s strength as a vocalist does more than enough to compensate for this, but when compared to Issues the material on display here is nowhere near as exciting and unique. It’s partly the novelty of a singer like Carter crooning over crunching metal that makes Issues so interesting, so hearing him in the closest thing to a natural musical habitat is more immediately understandable but less rewarding in the long term.
For what it is, Leave Your Love is a perfectly enjoyable EP that works well within the parameters of the contemporary R&B genre if nothing else. It’s certainly a good deal more successful than a certain other recent Rise Records artist solo project, and even if it doesn’t bring the name Tyler Carter to more people it will cement his status as one of the most unique and gifted vocalists in underground music today.