Review: ‘Home Alone’

D-Block Europe’s solo debut mixtape is a polished parade of indulgent trap tourism and its trials and tribulations.

It is tricky to overlook the ascension of D-Block Europe. The Brit-trap duo, consisting of Young Adz and Dirtbike LB, adopted the ‘bando baby’ sound of American trap and raised it to produce hits such as “Traphouse” and “nASSty”. The group’s third quarter of 2018 blossomed their first full-length project, Any Minute Now, a short-yet-sweet collaborative mixtape with Yxng Bane. Oddly enough the mixtape arrived before either artist had a solo project to their name. Home Alone is the group’s formal introduction to the world, and a chance to clarify whether they are mere singles artists or capable of putting out engaging full-length projects.

On Home Alone, D-Block Europe continue to carve their candy-cane serenades to the trap life in a consistent 19 tracks.

All the usual traits of D-Block Europe make their way onto Home Alone. The sparking Auto-Tune drowns in the sugary production as Young Adz and Dirtbike LB rap about whipping in the kitchen, going down on their girls and eating at places they can’t pronounce. “Intro” stamps the sort of chemistry that trickles throughout the succeeding tracks. The Future-inspired “mm-mmm” ad-lib found on “Running Man” is a minor yet distinctive touch but functions flawlessly alongside the skittering guitar and wild-West whirs.

DBE’s signature melodies turn up on “Dreads in Plats”, “I Remember” and “Careful” to make a clear statement; the group’s formula isn’t turning stale anytime soon. The former track boasts one of the strongest hooks of the project (“No rap cap / I got plaques on plaques / Put my dreads in plats / Tell the plug bring more / I’ma be right back”). Another memorable hook is found on “Keeper” featuring M Huncho, Nafe Smallz and DBE affiliate Lil Pino (“She’s a keeper / Said she don’t trust trappers, made her a believer”). The Auto-Tuned verses blend into the same cup until the abstract voice of M Huncho is introduced, a breath of fresh air from the one-toned Adz (“Left the wood in my Nikes, can’t tell her to stuff it in her tight jeans”).

For all the perks of the trap lifestyle, DBE ensure they touch on its trials and tribulations as well. “In Pain Season” sees Young Adz reflect on his ‘burner in the mosque’ days and run-ins with the law (“First sentencing I told mummy to stay out / She kept it G though, you know that woman still came”). “Your Strong” [sic] addresses loyalty entirely performed by Dirtbike LB, proving that the crooner can hold his own to those who put him second-fiddle to Young Adz.

Usually DBE bring their A-game when it comes to the hooks. However, the majority of Home Alone fails to bring those memorable hooks typically found on their singles. Hooks often blend into verses without notice, which is the case for tracks like “Luke Cage” and “Gold”. This absence slots Home Alone into a position of a consistent listen that lacks standout hits.

The exceptions arrive towards the tail end of the tracklist. “She Wants Love” is a gem that carries the best hook of the mixtape (“She just want love, I just want drugs”). Both artists glide over the guitar melody, tailor-made to hit the charts. It is followed by “This Love”, toning down the cinematic production of its predecessor for a laidback endorsement of single life (“Baby pour an eights up in my cup / I’m tryna have fun and I know she be the one”). Both hooks are performed by Dirtbike LB, showing he is more than capable of hook duty when given the opportunity.

Despite the consistency, questions must be asked for the omission of the group’s biggest singles to date. “nASSty” would have served as a perfect lead single, embodying the group’s style better than any song that makes the 19-song tracklist. Other singles “Mazzaleen” and “The Shard” also fail to make an appearance, tracks that were released only last year. These are some head-scratching decisions made that prevent Home Alone from gargantuan status.

D-Block Europe succeed in what may have appeared to be an impossible task. Home Alone marks DBE’s territory, missing the group’s standout hits but leave plenty on the plate to chew on.

Rating: 7.5 / 10

Favourite tracks: “She Wants Love”, “This Love”, “Smoking”, “Keeper”, “Dreads in Plats”, “Running Man”, “Careful”, “Intro”, “Kettle Pouring”

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