The mystique continues to encompass the Columbia records signed electronic music producer, even after this debut full length. Zhu plants in 2016, with a great deal of ambiguity and musical unusualness, his first album – GENERATIONWHY. The record is a bold statement. A gap bridged between dancefloor spirit, atmospheric emotion and conformist, dark, dance-pop music. Despite its paramount aim of being a danceable record, the result it’s really an unconvincing re-visit to monotonous sounds and non-exclusive character – revealing itself as a record comprised of tracks bound with routine dance cuts and abundant similarity.
Intro (Neon City) surrounds itself with a brisk, peculiar energy that transposes within the scope of the record. The natural trumpet moments are drowned with regular lyrics and conventional vocals. Although it’s modern dance music, in most places it feels overwhelmingly fabricated and artificially unnecessary. In The Morning rubs a sample of the early noughties euro dance hit Touch Me In The Morning, though doesn’t do much else in enthralling an inventive or head-turning feel. Most of the record sounds considerably alike from start to finish. There is nothing typically bad about 4×4 beats, however, the simple low-end bass and similar synth rolls suffocate the overall potential of the track, spilling into other areas on the album. Hometown Girl again displays a series of generic swooning and an inescapable Disney emotions within the lyrics. Good Life stands out as the record’s singular and most worthy saviour, bouncing between energetic chord stabs, flowered vocal snippets and spoken word flickers. Numb grips to a pitched down vocal focus and irksome character in the reused bassline – positioning itself right beside Zhu’s earlier proven success, Faded. The production of Money, for the most part, is well executed, though this doesn’t last long and is soon expelled forcibly by the ill-fitted vocal whinings. This is again similar to the album’s title track, Generationwhy. The noble synth experiments and funk guitar strums are quite hardy and free, and although the bassline casts with it a certain nostalgia and tropically imbued jubilation, the vocals seem a little too saturated – defaming an otherwise decent tune.
Generally, if one is to seek an album of quickly fused together basslines and strengthless revisits to proven beat renditions, then Zhu’s GENERATIONWHY is a perfect go-to. Notwithstanding the shortcomings, there is a heightened attempt in building a danceable, pop record, and that is most visible on the album. The record’s Achilles heel situates itself behind too much similarity in the song structure, and the obvious musical shadowing of other dance-pop predecessors.