After a 7 year hiatus, Maxwell released his second installment to the blacksummer’s night series- BlackSUMMER‘S night. His fourth studio album was produced by a very talented team including himself (Muze), Stuart Matthewman and Hod David. Compared to the last installment, Maxwell’s focus is on summer and it is shown through the use of fresh yet rich and jazzy tones throughout the album, which is reminiscent of 80’s groups such as Earth, Wind, and Fire.
His first single released off this album is ‘Lake by the Ocean’, a truly tranquil track and a solid r’n’b song. In his interview with the Rolling Stone magazine, Maxwell states that this song is about the love produced from the ability to be intimate with someone else after a period of betrayal and struggle. Such sentiment is made clear from the start as he sings,
“In the light of the sun
I was dazed, I was burned, I was lost
Deep in the storm of a grave
Had a bed as a coffin
You were only the one that made me fulfilled.”
However as Maxwell looks forward, he takes time heals and show gratitude to his partner, isolated from others shown through the most significant metaphor in the song “lake by the ocean”. The metaphors throughout this song set a pretty scene, which is warm and uncomplicated, unlike the first installment where it seemed that Maxwell’s love life was mired in confusion.
‘1990x’ was another stand out single, again the texture was fresh, the rhythm was majestic and the melody funky creating an exciting sound. The lyrics follow the theme of love or being consumed by love, but in this instance, the idea of being in love. Yet he is hesitant due to lack of signs that the other party is interested; which is becoming a theme in itself throughout this album. Although I wouldn’t call it unrequited love, Maxwell seems to be attracted to those who yield a paralysing power over him, causing him to be less brave and more vulnerable. Due to his unwillingness to step forward, we never get to know how the other party would react to his offer, yet the vulnerability shown in his album is interesting to note.
In ‘Gods’ we get some sort of idea of how his offer of love is received. As he sings
“I lay myself on the floor
Gave it up, threw my hand through the door
How could I give you what you can’t accept?
How can I make you more present?”,
it becomes obvious that he is greeted with nonchalance and coldness causing him to act out due to receiving no response. Yet this could be karma returning to Maxwell, as he too was cold to the offers of love he received in BLACKsummer’s night, as he ended up cheating on some of his partners. He deems this type of behavior as selfish and dangerous-hence the title ‘Gods’ yet that too is ironic; in as much as he worships this party they still end up losing (at the chance of gaining pure love), the same way he did 7 years ago.
‘Listen Hear’ at times can be confusing as Maxwell is saying many things at once. One thing is definite is that not only does he worship his loved one, he surrenders to them as well. As he surrenders he explains his lack of clarity at times and asks not that it is made sense of but the situation is taken control of. Considering love can be the cause of his tough times, it also can bring him out those ‘black holes’,therefore ‘Listen Hear’ seems like instructions of what to do if it seems like things are going wrong and to comfort and remind them that if anything it’s him and not them.
Overall BlackSUMMER’S night is album giving thanks to the power of Love and its ability to guide and lift him out of his dark times, Maxwell’s comeback is one which I greatly enjoyed, not only for the new sounds he brought but also for providing some sort of answer to the first installment. However, with that said, this album should not be taken as a conclusive end, as he has one more installment to finish his trilogy.
By Adaobi Nezianya