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.

2/5.

Utopiais out now through Forthwrite / EMI.

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