AP YCM is a one-of-a-kind musical talent from Buffalo, New York. Discovering him through his fantastic 2020 album Chrysalis which I gave a very positive review to, AP has been a close contact of mine who I have happily watched grow and improve through his fantastic single run, which he’s gone on this decade. In 2021, AP released his newest album, Don’t Wake Me Up, and after months of delays and scheduling pushbacks, my review is finally here.
In just 35 minutes, AP YCM makes a heartfelt statement that loosely runs through the storm of emotions lingering within his mind. From addiction to heartbreak, all the way to suicide, AP battles some of the darkest demons he’s facing in order to paint this sonically soothing yet topically frightening spectacle of a record. While the generally soft instrumentation in the background is so sweet on its own, the troubled vocals of AP culminate together for a firey showing of regret and self-hatred. While these dark themes are hardly explored beyond the surface-level writing of AP, which certainly has taken a step back from his last lp, he makes up for this with his emphasis on singing and delivery, which is nearly on point. The intro track “Don’t Wake Me” is one of the best examples of this as the anger mixed with sadness builds for a feeling like no other. With the songs following moments in “Nothin At All” and “Stuck In Here” doing their all to continue to build this gloomy cloud, the intent, and consistency of AP’s ideas are impeccable. The song “I Can’t Breathe” is one of the most memorable songs on the entire album due to the near-perfect vocal performance maxed with a rock-heavy instrumental the climatic build-up of the Buffalo artist’s emotions is so pure and captivating.
As the album progresses, AP continues to spiral down the emotional rabbit hole and despite certain moments feeling like direct clones of each other sonically and topically, the album always remains engaging with simply off the basis of the emotions poured into it. Making the second half necessary to listen to “Hard To Sleep” is one of AP’s best songs to date with its energetic and lively trap beat that mixes so well with AP’s smooth vocals. This moment along with the creative “Hyperpop // Red Rum,” are two of AP’s most exciting and dynamic cuts, and with a tone that’s completely different than the rest of the lp, it opens the floodgates for even more innovation in the future. The hard-hitting trap cut “Indulging” was another standout due to the rarely seen swag from AP, which almost makes me want a full trap project from him at this point. While the second half overall could have been condensed down by about three tracks, the sparks of creativity throughout the first half add some one-of-a-kind moments to help draw a versatile group of listeners.
All in all, Don’t Wake Me Up isn’t as creative or well-written as Chrysalis, but it’s still a super enjoyable project for anyone who appreciates good vocals and passionate strikes of emotion. AP YCM appears as gifted as ever here, and while some of his skills feel toned down in terms of his writing and curating ability, the future is still in the palm of his hands. Going forward, I would love to hear more music from AP YCM, and the only thing I could request from him at this point is to keep pushing his boundaries forward. He’s proven to be such a well-rounded artist, and if he can create a record that encompasses all his strengths while also showing what’s next in his artist roadmap, he may just become the star myself, and thousands of others have believed he can be.
Written By: Mr. Fantastic