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Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critic Reviews What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

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  • Summary: The debut full-length studio release for the hip-hop producer features guest appearances from A$AP Rocky, Sam Dew, Mikky Ekko, Samuel T. Herring, Kelela, Lil B, Joe Newman, Vince Staples, and Kelly Zutrau.
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Top Track

Be Somebody
(A$AP Rocky) Cause you are beautiful Yes it's true Baby yes it's true Cause you are beautiful Ooh, beautiful Wingman til I turn into the main... See the rest of the song lyrics
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. 90
    32 Levels sees Clams Casino step up a level and make a hugely positive and lasting impression.
  2. Q Magazine
    Jul 26, 2016
    [An] absorbing, multi-layered debut. [Sep 2016, p.112]
  3. The Wire
    Aug 19, 2016
    An engrossing collection. [Aug 2016, p.63]
  4. Jul 25, 2016
    There’s nothing on this release to suggest that Clams Casino has ascended to the next level. In its own right, it’s further evidence of Clams’ special talents but for those who have followed his career closely, it’s hard not to think about what could have been.
  5. Jul 18, 2016
    Versatility, it turns out, may not be Clams’ strong suit, though that’s hardly a problem; as the first half of 32 Levels demonstrates, there’s still plenty of room left for Clams Casino to grow into his own sound.
  6. Jul 18, 2016
    32 Levels begins and ends strongly but sags in the middle like an old sofa.
  7. Jul 15, 2016
    Apart from when Future Islands' Sam Herring comes out from behind a tree with an old wizard's rumble on "Ghost In a Kiss," most of the remaining lyrical contributions to 32 Levels, even from Vince Staples and A$AP Rocky, range from decent to deleterious.

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 1
  2. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Aug 22, 2016
    As a Clams Casino fan I was excited to hear that he was going to release his first album a few months ago. I've enjoyed his InstrumentalAs a Clams Casino fan I was excited to hear that he was going to release his first album a few months ago. I've enjoyed his Instrumental Mixtapes and I am well aware of his producing stance in the hip-hop scene. He has carved out a smorgasbord of floaty, dreamy moods and sounds over the years that he seemingly handpicks or even combines to envelop each specific track for different purposes. One track I particularly enjoyed from him over the years was his instrumental track Crystals, which was just fantastic.

    So, it is pretty evident that I was optimistic about this record. Clams is a talented producer, so I could only imagine the material he could craft when he sits down with artists to do songs with his vision at the priority.

    Did his debut album live up to my expectations? Hmm.

    The best material mostly centre around his instrumentals: Level 1, Skulls and Blast. These instrumental cuts are all solid and colourful, highlighting Clams' production skills with the vocal chopping, pitching and industrial samples. Skulls could have definitely been longer however. I feel that one minute of that track doesn't do it justice.

    The rap tracks which occupy the first half of the record are pretty captivating for the most part. All Nite with Vince Staples is a particular track I love; it is an absolute banger, the lucid production and lyricism made this cut the best on the album for me. Darker, misty tracks like Be Somebody also impressed me - the way the chord progressions glue with the vocals on this cut is great. 32 Levels (which is obviously the main track on the record as it is album-titled) is a bit of a mixed bag. Instrumentation could have been tweaked better, and though I rate the rapping from Lil' B, the higher pitched vocal line in the mix certainly takes some getting used to. The way it descends into the Bhangra styled drop-off - it makes me cringe slightly.

    Second half of the record, minus Blast, takes a bit of nosedive in quality. It transforms from the dark, Clams' Casino vibe into R&B influenced material. There are accomplished cuts on this half, but it is at this point that poor cuts start to emerge as well.

    Back To You is a surprisingly, incredibly engaging poppy track. Kelly's vocals and the instrumentation connect at an impressive standard. A Breath Away could have potentially been one of the better tracks on the record if it weren't for that sour, cringy garbage of a bridge on the vocal line that starts at around 40 seconds and finishes at about 48 (which is repeated again sometime later in the song). Clams' instrumentation still manages to pull the track together though - the subtlety of the drums are notably impressive.

    Now for the tracks that I don't really like or rate: Thanks To You is a nonchalant, flat and disappointing track. This is a remarkable feat given that I embrace off-kilter instrumentation. I feel that the vocals are stale and the thin, stripped-back instrumentation of the synths and drums further denies it from flourishing. They don't compliment each other for me. Ghost In A Kiss is mostly let down by how overly prominent Samuel's distressing vocals are in the mix. Instrumentation is sound, but I just can't embrace how low and raspy the vocals are - I try but I keep failing. The outro remains an exception however where Samuel's vocals and the production crush together wildly in the mix which does sound good. This is a borderline bad song; it has its good moments which are slightly outweighed by the bad. Finally, Into The Fire with Mikky Ekko should have never made it onto the record. I've never heard Clams' so detached from his style - it straight-up sounded like indie pop. The track isn't necessarily bad, it is competently good but not great. I just don't understand why he would put this on the record. It could quite easily sneak onto an indie pop record and you'd never know Clams' produced it. Such a strange track.

    Wrapping the whole record up: I am disappointed. I had big hopes for this record and sadly it didn't live up to it. Not as good as his previous material. I enjoyed most of the tracks on this album, but unfortunately there are also some pretty poor and iffy tracks on the record too. That is my main gripe - how inconsistent it is.

    That is essentially what brings this down to an average album for me. Nothing great, nothing disastrous overall. Just a potentially great debut record from a talented producer, dragged down by some seriously poor vocal features and questionable decisions. Hopefully he can come up with something more impressive and more palatable in the future. Getting better vocalists in the studio is a good way to start.

    Favourite tracks: All Nite, Blast and Back To You
    Worst tracks: Thanks To You and Ghost In A Kiss, special mention for Into The Fire which although is good doesn't belong on the album at all.