Nice guys and rap music – it’s a combination that rarely works. Nevertheless, much like nasty film villains, rhyme-spitting deviants still attract plenty of affectionate followers.

In recent years Melbourne pop-hopper Matt Colwell (AKA 360) has managed to strike the balance between ugly and much-loved to chart-topping effect.Utopia, his third LP, is rife with braggadocio and middle fingers to naysayers. But redemption comes from the fact he sounds like a daggy, average dude.

The record’s thematic scope is tediously thin. Colwell offers first person details of thwarting personal struggles (a career in rap, addiction). While simplified self-help mantras such as “If you’re not behind me / Stay the fuck out my way,” will speak to a broad listenership, Colwell really doesn’t take it any further. Essentially, after overcoming his demons and adversaries, the best he has to offer is a dull, gloating account of the fact he’s done so.

Radio-ready production prevents the record from being completely unpleasant (and ensures TV syncs aplenty), but it doesn’t suit Colwell’s ungraceful vocals. With a bit of fire behind him, perhaps the rapping could’ve gathered potency. Instead, Utopia struggles even to be offensive.

Yep, worse than being horrible, Utopia is just plain boring.


Utopiais out now through Forthwrite / EMI.

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