We often hail that rare quality of versatility in an artist, celebrating it as the key to progression and evolution. Few acts truly achieve it, but in Riyadh-based group, FIGŪREZ, we have one act that has attacked the notion in full force with their most recent release, Motherland.
Across its seven tracks, you can hear a range of influences, ranging from hip-hop and R&B, to rock and pop, with each and every track coming as a subtle fusion of sounds, and each one informing its lyrical direction.
Abdulmajeed, Saleh and Meshari make up the core members of the band, though they’re aided in Motherland by three more in SHZQU, Babylonjah and Kali-B.So what’s going on with this hotpot of genres and sounds? In hop-hop-based tracks, ‘Way’ and ‘Believe’, the group tells the story of their journey in the music industry and is built on positive reinforcement and optimism. ‘Mn Ba’eed’ heads to the adjacent world of contemporary R&B in its percussion pattern and bassline, though reggae rhythms give it another layer.
‘Patient’ and ‘Selfish’, meanwhile, simmer down into soul, with the former talking about chasing dreams, and the latter - wait for it - coming as what the band has called an “investigation into the thought process of an alien who resists the temptation of staying home amongst loved ones and instead decides to chase after the dreams.”
The biggest surprises of the album has to be ‘I Remember’, in which the entire aura of the album is shifted to a reggae-rock fusion that plays on the nostalgia of a pre-pandemic world. In ‘Back Home’, they find a middle ground between Afro, pop and R&B, as they reminisce about a simpler time as youth.
Motherland is a soulful swirl that keeps surprising, though ultimately it all falls under a broad umbrella of R&B and soul. This is not the detriment of the album - in fact, whether by chance or by design, it lays the foundations for their light-handed exploration of other sounds. What might come next from FIGŪREZ is an difficult prediction to make - and that’s a great place to occupy for any band.