Everyone is being called genre-defying today, but trust me, Von LaRae is the real deal. The queer solo vocal singer from Indianapolis, IN, bridges the gap between R&B and bedroom pop, all while offering atmospheric music at the very core.
Indiana-based vocalist, producer, and dancer Von LaRae has released “The Art of Sex,” an album with genres floating left and right into each other. Besides the fact that the whole project feels like a badass manifesto of limits pushing and bursts in free-speech expression, the boundaries-crushing project is a killer itself. Tender but filled with a heavy dose of original text meant to raise you from the dead, “The Art of Sex” makes an extraordinary album.
There’s a clear path to where the journey’s heading. Being an exploration into themes of addiction, vulnerability, intimacy, and sexuality, LaRae wastes no time to set the overtone with the album’s opening track ‘Labyrinth.’ Slow and steady, they dash out: “Have I told you that I love the way you fuck me?/ Pin me down, arch it back, then go dummy/ I can give you little something exclusive/ Pull out the cameras, we about to make a movie”. It’s dangerous to take a leap and get alive out of it, but in the end, everyone gets along somehow. That’s the fantastic thing about ‘Labyrinth’ – it’s not about a journey per se, but more about most dreamers’ journey. And that’s what Von LaRae is, a beautiful dreamer.
Once they finish establishing the groundwork, “The Art of Sex” continues to reveal its facade in a blend of genres. ‘Speed Racer’ is simply kick-you-in-the-crotch-spit-on-your-neck insane stuff! I love it! I love how the EDM vibes keep your inner club-boy/whatever ceaselessly shaking their head, but I feel like it throws you into some of the musician’s personal experiences. The track is so fresh, with a sweet aftertaste, mainly caused by the reflected ideas.
Now imagine a party where people come and drink and have fun, maybe get a BJ in the restroom, you know, Euphoria style. Cut to: the afterparty havoc – sticky floor, confetti, smoke all over, and a disco ball casting a colorful bright light on some random teens making out in a corner. But you’re left without a drink, the bartender’s long gone, and you’re pretty damn thirsty. So you pick up drinks leftovers and mix them into a giant, sweet, brilliant cocktail. “The Art of Sex” is that cocktail.
Now, back to where we were. Von LaRae enjoyed singing since they were young and was a choir member. Well, it shows, and you’ll see it in ‘Taste.’ The song provides a similar explosion of emotions, but their appealing vocals perfectly match the instrumental and everything. The tempo is impressive, creating a flavorful and rich texture throughout the listening experience.
On ‘D.O.A,’ LaRae’s vocals sparkle. But as they do, the song feels like the most vulnerable side of the artist. LaRae described ‘D.O.A’ as a song about suffering from addiction and how it can fully take over and ruin your life. By employing a different vocal treatment, the artist created a piece that combines and explains it all – from introspection to acceptance, an ambiguous vibe, and poetic depiction.
Once with ‘Kitchen light,’ the album comes to an unexpected but comforting closure with moments of vulnerability. It’s incredible how the album has so many unforgettable sonic moments. I’m only at the 5th track, and I feel like I’m growing alongside LaRae, slowly accepting the nature of life. Hear me out, with “The Art of Sex,” time travel is possible. The lyrics enter your DNA and find themselves creating a cozy place in the nucleotides, staying there and refusing to get out.
‘Reverse’ brings a sheer sonic nostalgia to the album. The song’s slightly eerie tone hits you with familiar warmth. On the title track ‘The Art of Sex,’ LaRae sings, “I like the way you kissing my thighs/ You fantasizing ’bout me at night/ You want good boys who know how to bite/You’ll never think twice/ He love how I ride.” With probably the most cravenly song of the album, LaRae delivers beautifully shaped and rounded instructions to a lover on how to love them. The temptation through this song and its imagery grabs your attention like a truck horn.
‘I think I’m in love’ has that crazy ’90s love song vibe, being the perfect intro for ‘You.’ These two songs are stripped back and conversational pull, as Von LaRae lets their tone and words be the center of attention. ‘You’ gently blend sweet vocals and slow instrumentals, becoming a full ballad moment. ‘Shine,’ ‘Delirious,’ and ‘Tell me how’ keep the same tone, the same lyrical genius, and emotional magnetism. These three songs somehow fit a lifetime of love and addiction into a barely 10-minutes listening experience by someone in their 20s.
Undoubtedly, “The Art of Sex” demands full volume and lowered windows from the passenger seat. Aside from the outro of ‘Speed Racer,’ who got the help of one of their best friends Tre’Vaughn Webster, LaRae took care of the entire project, from the sound engineering, production, and vocals, demonstrating an amazing ability to narrate and perform. “The Art of Sex” isn’t just an honest album. Instead, it presents addiction and love struggles while attaching a bandage to soothe the soreness of them all. You may not see your struggles or story in “The Art of Sex,” but let’s face it, everyone’s got a bit of Von LaRae in them.
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