Dominic Fike’s debut is favorable whirlwind of genres, self-growth

Fike Album
Columbia Records/Courtesy

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Grade: 4.0/5.0

From releasing his first EP Don’t Forget About Me, Demos while on house arrest to rubbing shoulders with beloved boy band Brockhampton, Dominic Fike has clearly grown not only as a musician but also as a human. As fans held their breaths for Fike’s debut album What Could Possibly Go Wrong, pushed back from a July 10 release to a July 31 one out of respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, they expected Fike to deliver an album of catchy, genre-fluid tracks. What Could Possibly Go Wrong fulfills longtime fans’ wishes and earns the up-and-coming 24-year-old singer a new, much bigger following.

The opener, “Come Here,” cements Fike’s affinity for dipping into a variety of musical styles, adopting a ’90s angsty rock vibe with the muted vocals and unpolished guitar. It’s a criminally short song that gives just a taste of the musical assortment to come, leaving you eager to see what’s next.

Though Fike seems to enjoy experimenting with many unrelated music styles, he is fundamentally a hip-hop lover at heart. “Cancel Me” brings him back to his original pop-tinged hip-hop as he aggressively sings about leaving the limelight. Despite singing “I hope they banish me, I miss my family tree/ I was a family man, and now I’m just a man to see,” Fike doesn’t seem to be taking his fame lightly in the song, as he simply addresses the consequences of signing a multimillion-dollar record deal.

Fike often visits the theme of being overwhelmed by newfound fame and constantly being in the public eye, delivering lines that are different repetitions of the same message, while switching up the beat behind each iteration. “10x Stronger” features an orchestral composition with only one actual lyric declaring Fike’s affinity for pretending he’s “ten times stronger for you,” while “Why” incorporates a catchy guitar line and completes the album’s transition to its solid pop stage.

In the same musical vein as Fike’s earlier hits, the lead single “Chicken Tenders” focuses on his desire for lush living and how he hopes to indulge in simple intimate pleasures despite being thrust into a hectic lifestyle. It’s a pleasing song to listen to, allowing listeners to settle into a calm pop groove before the fittingly titled song “Whats for Dinner?” switches up the vibe with drowned-out vocals and a slowed beat.

“Politics & Violence” marks What Could Possibly Go Wrong’s shift to pure hip-hop, even treating listeners with smooth rap and charged lyrics, hence the title. The rest of the album continues to draw upon hip-hop influences, with “Florida” marking Fike coming full circle, not only with respect to the album, but also to the start of his life and his rise in the music industry. “Yeah, I’m still the same (Don’t ask, you know why),” he sings, an assertion that the glamour of Los Angeles hasn’t made him forget where he comes from.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong is exactly what Fike’s fans expected him to put out. He set out to record an album that was entirely predictable and familiar, while still managing to avoid being boring and uniform. Each song is backed by a solid but distinct beat that always sounds fundamentally like Fike. The artist melds his strengths in hip-hop and pop and places a mid-’90s alternative filter on the entire thing, making What Could Possibly Go Wrong a concrete manifestation of the range and talent Fike boasts. The album isn’t a cry for help to save the struggling Fike from the vices of success, but rather an unbothered reconciliation.

The only drawback is that most songs are too short, but this makes sense in the overall weave of the album, as each is like a fleeting thought or snippet of his life. And though Fike still has much to uncover about the world and to learn from the musical journey he has embarked on, What Could Possibly Go Wrong shows that he’s ready to take on whatever’s in store.

Pooja Bale covers music. Contact her at [email protected].