Published Feb 10, 2020In a 2018 interview with Billboard, 070 Shake says, "I'm like obsessed with emotions and how they work." This obsession — ranging from euphoria and desperation to melancholy and despair — is at the heart of the 22-year-old New Jerseyan's impressive debut, Modus Vivendi.
Shake's soaring, ruminative vocals — which put her in the spotlight of Kanye West's "Ghost Town" and Pusha-T's "Santeria" — propel Modus Vivendi to ethereality. In "The Pines," Shake interrogates her mysterious lover, "Where did you sleep last night?" receiving no answer. Renowned video game composer Sarah Schachner finishes the track with a thumping, orgasmic string arrangement for the ages. In "Under the Moon," Shake looks to drugs to cure her lovesickness euphorically chanting "I want to get high" — reminiscent of Kanye's mantric chants on "Dark Fantasy" ("Can we get much higher?") from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
The romantic turbulence of Modus reaches a dramatic climax in the '80s synth-pop track "Guilty Conscience," where Shake croons in devastation after finding her lover "on another one's body." "Guilty Conscience" perfectly segues into the next track, "Divorce," where Shake shifts her attitude and asserts "leave me" and "we need a divorce."
It's rich, cinematic moments like these that easily dwarf and overpower some of the mediocre, drab sections in the album, such as "Nice to Have," which drags listlessly beyond its welcome. The opening track "Don't Break the Silence" also underwhelms, compared to the futuristic soundscapes of "Microdosing" and "Terminal B."
Nevertheless, Modus pulsates with an infectious vibrancy and scintillates with bittersweet sentimentalism. It's superproducer Mike Dean and former Canadian rock band the Stills member Dave Hamelin who provide Shake with the lush sonic canvas for lyrical catharsis. Ultimately, Shake carves out poetic tranquility in the entropy of her messy relationship, showing her audience the art of Modus Vivendi — or the peaceful coexistence of conflicting forces. (Good Music/Def Jam)