It’s been a past couple weeks of speculating what will happen to the creative process when AI becomes further and further developed, and the answer might be that we’ll get a lot of music that sounds like leave me where you found me by iann dior. Released a little over a year since achieving decent success in the wake of #1 hit single “Mood” by leaning more into his pop-punk side and joining the Travis Barker crew, dior’s third studio album might be the most blatantly shameless TikTok bait I’ve ever seen, and leaves the listener with almost nothing in the way of substance. Standing at 12 tracks and running only 26 minutes in length, there are only three songs here that hover around the three-minute mark, the rest struggling to hit two. Bringing back some of the trap beats and continuing to pump out some emo-rap melodies that might get heads nodding in the moment due to their strict adherence to tried-and-true formulae but ultimately become instantly forgettable, this might be the most inconsequential big release of the year to music fans, but I’m sure dior won’t mind the reviews when a 16-year-old inevitably sends one of these songs to the stratosphere as it plays in the background of a stolen meme.
Seemingly inspired by Yeat and Playboi Carti-style Gen-Z instant gratification, “my turn” starts on second one with bright, cartoonish, rage-beat style synths in the back as dior seemingly pays them absolutely no mind with an incongruent, rhythm-free melody. A standard trap beat does eventually anchor things a little more, but dior is still delivering tired lyrics about Pateks and the like while sounding completely dead-eyed. He truly used to have a unique and refreshing tone and approach that made almost anything he touched catchy, but it’s been reduced to phoned-in Auto-tuned yelps. “do it all” starts with a digitized rock beat and more of a punk angle, but it’s the shortest track here and is essentially nothing at all outside of a single, brief chorus repeated twice. It’s odd for a song so short to have a random, energy-killing and self-indulgent falsetto break in the middle, but this one makes it happen. Elsewhere, it’s clear that dior doesn’t care about anything here past a tiny soundbite – the verses across the whole project sound like inebriated rambling, and sometimes the chorus is a whiny whimper anyway, like on the track “make it right.”
The track “10×3” is the kind of song with mostly a bland framework on the surface, but one that would have been elevated a ton with just a tiny ounce of charisma. With some catchy, repeatable lyrics and one of the more interesting beats here – it sounds like it comes from a Legend of Zelda game – dior descends onto the track with a sleepy, one-note melody that does nothing to service them. The man who was once all about the melodics now emits them from a track that really could have used them. It’s truly odd that he’s become such a below-average regular Gen-Z rapper on this one – he sounds like Swae Lee’s absolute worst tracks most of the time. “do or die,” hilariously, has the equivalent of those movie trailers or YouTube videos that put the most exciting part first as an attention-grabbing preview. In a 97-second song, that’s a pretty sad indictment of society. The track “myself” sees dior deliver the chorus in a barely-there baby voice, with some pitched-down bits in case that’s what catches on instead of a sped up version.
The next two tracks find dior doing awful impressions of two separate “lil” rappers. The punchy, ascending and intended to be excitable melody on “crack another seal” resembles a bad Lil Uzi Vert song, as dior curiously continues to misunderstand how to end things or make a melody resolve in a satisfying way on this project – the number of moments where there’s almost nothing happening on tracks this short is nothing less than infuriating. “start again,” on the other hand, finds him doing the same kind of layering and pop-rock beat as a bad Lil Nas X tune. It’s the first one with a respectable length here, but without the heart and emotion behind it, it doesn’t translate. Top-notch producer Nick Mira provides a beat to “catching up,” with some interesting elements of unique synth tones fading in and out, but dior has no idea how to use them – he just attacks this like every other song here.
Bookending another copy-and-paste pop-punk song in “liar,” dior actually saves the only two fleshed-out and decently paced and structured tracks on the album for the very end. “memory lane” still has some awful harmonies and vocal pitching throughout, but the central, rhythmically stuttered hook is at least an ear-grabbing decision and there’s enough of a build to make it effective. After some sad acoustics and reminiscing, it ends with some electronic twists on the melody. Closing track “sweetest demon” succeeds even more because it’s the only track where it sounds like dior cares, as some emotion creeps into his vocals while processing a breakup. It’s certainly the one that most resembles his older output.
It seems like instead of being one of its major innovators as it seemed that he might be, iann dior will be remembered as one of those artists that’s born with a trend and will die with the trend as well. Unless I’m wrong and the track lengths and general ChatGPT vibe of the album are a sign of things to come, in which case, we’re doomed.
Favourite Tracks: sweetest demon, memory lane
Least Favourite Track: make it right