In his latest EP, the singer-songwriter channels gospel serenity with waves of sonic experimentation
Love Mansuy has been at it for a few years now. He follows up his 2019 EP Of Age, with a double-sided EP (món-swee) consisting of Side A and Side B. Canadian by birth and raised in New Jersey, Love has dedicated his songwriting gift to exploring alternative modalities of masculinity and vulnerability.
The double-sided EP is an exploration of past and future. Side A showcases Love’s more traditional approach to songwriting marked by heavy vocals and a gospel sensibility. While Side B represents a more ambitious approach to music making that counts Radiohead and Coldplay among its inspiration.
“I’d say Irvington isn’t the safest place to live,” Love says of his childhood hometown. “My grandmother, to keep me out of trouble, she’d have me go to church with her every sunday suited up. That’s where I got introduced to gospel music. I wasn’t interested in music at that time. She forced me to take piano lessons though, classical lessons for a few years.”
The classical training has paid dividends for Love and when paired with modern chords and melodies the result is an astounding marriage of traditional with contemporary R&B. Of course Love’s music is marked by a sense of child-like wonder and experimentation that eludes categorization; to call genre the music is to do it a disservice.
“Certain songs [on the EP] are pure gospel music for sure,” Mansuy says. “Even if you strip them down and take out some of the lyrics, a lot of the instrumentation on there are gospel chords. I’m completely inspired by gospel chords. Music that lifts up—I live for that stuff.”
Shifting beyond the gospel aesthetic that dominates Side A, Side B is a brave experiment in genre-bending that has come to define contemporary music. Soft vocals overlaid onto scratchy guitar chords reminiscent of Coldplay’s Parachutes that enter into a synthetic crescendo of pained vocals redolent of Radioheads’s OK COMPUTER (in addition to Stevie Wonder and Frank Ocean, Mansuy counts Coldplay and Thom Yorke among his inspiration).
And while Mansuy’s music may draw inspiration from a panoply of disparate musical corners, the 27-year-old combines diverging interest into a wholly new and uncontested sound that will surely drive him forward through the industry. With a debut album still forthcoming, one wonders what success might look like for an emerging artist who pairs such talent with a quiet discipline.
“I think I’ve outgrown all of the egotistical stuff: all the things I thought I had or thought I needed for some kind of validation,” Mansuy says. “All the things that didn’t really matter that I thought were going to bring me some kind of status or success in my life. Even when I got just a glimpse of it, I didn’t feel anything. Nothing even changed.”
As is often stated of Mansuy, his music doesn’t shy from vulnerability—his lyrics offer an earnest self-reflection on masculinity, driven by instinct and his loved ones around him (his son, a toddler, frequently appears in album visuals).
“Success is what I’m continuously creating now and looking to the left and the right and the people I’ve been doing it with and really hoping that we’re still smiling around the table. As long as we continue to smile that will be success.”