But it's also not a stretch to hear a hip-hop influence in "Hardmood," particularly in the way they layer almost imperceptible soul samples— filtered and massaged into a kind of opalescent blob that glows deep in the mix—with muted vocal loops and demure, complementary leads. It's a little like a cleaner version of Benny Blanko's early '00s records for Playhouse, with 909s in place of broken beats. Counteracting the smoothness, the hi-hats have been mixed almost uncomfortably loud, but I think that's the point: between them and the equally biting handclaps, this track is all about presence, no matter how dreamy it might seem.
"Joe MacDaddy" begins even tougher, with searing hi-hats and a hard, stubby bassline, but resonant, pulsing string loops take the edge off as they swell to fill the spaces in between. Where "Hardmood" followed an almost jaunty four-bar chord progression, "Joe MacDaddy" rests its weight on a single pedal tone, lulling you into a ruminative state. So it comes as a surprise when a voice breaks in, saying, "Listen to the lyrics..." The phrase repeats, and then the beats fall away, leaving just Rhodes and ride cymbal running free. There's an extended spoken-word passage that's hard to make out, and then, without drama, the beat kicks back in and we're eased out the door. In structure and mood alike, it's not a particularly radical track—it's almost a tool, albeit harmonically richer and fuller. But like all well-made tools, it serves its purpose with elegant simplicity.