In late fall of 2013, Carrington Clinton was stuck. Like a million other twenty-somethings, he felt like he had nothing going for himself, and he wasn't sure what to do.
As his Bandcamp page tells the story, that's when Clinton reverted to what made him feel most comfortable: music. He changed his moniker from Carebear to Clint Breeze (a good call!) and got to work creating Evolve, a sunny LP of electro-pop that "[caters] towards young individuals … who are looking for a route for contentment and happiness."
Despite the distress that hung over the conception, the songs on Evolve will practically roll down the car windows for you. Instead of an album laden with melancholy, Breeze delivers 16 tracks of pleasant pop music, taking any cerebral tendencies and stashing them under a neon-electric veneer of sounds.
The juxtaposition isn't dissimilar to what Passion Pit does, and while Breeze's laments sound more casual than Michael Angelakos' flagrant bipolarity, they can be just as disarming. Breeze executes the effect to perfection on opener "Twenty Two," when he coos, "I've got nothing to show for myself," in a falsetto over warm layers of synth and a simple, plodding drumline.
Evolve is lovely in its simplicity. Despite dealing with profundities like happiness and contentment, Breeze doesn't overcomplicate things. Most of the songs' constructions are minimal, often anchored by some kinetic drums and insulated by various sounds and synths. He keeps his textures pretty thin as well. The feeling is what matters, not the idea, and that's exactly the case on tracks like "Homies," "Stimulation" or "Train Rides" — all featuring distinctly different musical styles and opt for lyrical vignettes instead of outright stories.
There's something very millennial about Evolve: its lyrics are ridden with anxieties of growing up; it samples heavily; it even has a lo-finess that's markedly 2000s. Breeze tries that aesthetic in some cool ways, tweaking hip-hop, psychedelia, neo-soul or light funk, among others. It all fits together seamlessly, thanks to a solid concept and sequencing. It's no coincidence that the album's last two tracks are its best. The penultimate "Lady" sounds like what would happen if Chromeo ever wrote a song appropriate for the prom king and queen's first dance in a John Hughes movie. It's amazing.
"Evolve," the title track and finale, provides a charming, almost jazzy conclusion to the album's swell, the arc of which is helped along by interludes that quote figures from Kurt Vonnegut to Art Tatum. The speakers talk mostly about journeys or identity or both, and none of them feel too heavy-handed.
The album's closing monologue comes from Gil Scott-Herron, a bit about the power of unique artistry that suggests Breeze may have discovered his own voice, and in turn, a little peace. By relying on one's identity for fulfillment, Evolve conceives happiness as a fluid state of mind rather than a destination –– more "What makes you happy?" than "When will you get there?" –– and is well-designed to help you find it.