Despite Dreams only being their sophomore EP, Columbus-based alternative hip-hop duo label me lecter has made a strong case for attaining an even bigger following during the rest of their career. Their name comes from a play on words, meaning “call me crazy,” and everything the band does aims to be unexpected, from melodies to lyrical narratives to live performances.
Upon first listen, the album sounds almost like early twenty one pilots – before they sold out and became a typical radio-ready band, that is. label me lecter’s bright piano chords and shimmering synth back up frontman Brian Penn’s smooth rapping vocals and the occasional line or two of vocals, and in tracks like “Someday”, the puttering electronic melody in the instrumental is reminiscent of twenty one pilots’ “Trees”. Overall, though, label me lecter is softer and less harsh than the other duo, and their lyrical narrative is less soaked in sadness and contains more typical rap lyrics.
label me lecter is also similar to twenty one pilots in the way of their faith; although less subtle than Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, it is clear that their love for God has bled into their music. Yet instead of hinting at conflicts with their faith, Label Me Lecter takes refuge in it with lyrics like, “But I’m still here, n****, so I know God is working,” on the last track. “Saved”, the second-to-last song on the album, is the one with perhaps the most overt themes of faith, however. While its piano chords are chunky and choppy, they are tied together with Penn’s smooth vocals as he raps, “And I feel free when I thank my God/‘Cause I see constant grace.”
“Good Love” is the standout on the EP, though; Penn’s vocals in the beginning are smooth and sweet like caramel, a texture that is representative of the rest of the wholesome love song. It is relatable to anyone who has ever been so in love that it seems impossible as Penn croons, “I fell in love with my best friend/I’ve been leaping and laughing since.” He paints a beautiful love letter to the girl he loves, yet the higher-energy track does not objectify the lover in question like so many rap songs tend to do. Instead, Penn raps about how he cannot believe they are together: “Though I don’t deserve it/I’ll give her all I am and hope that she don’t let me go.”
The excitement of this EP is not the peak of the band’s year, however; label me lecter recently announced that they will be playing their final show of the year on Friday, December 7 at Woodlands Tavern. Special guests have yet to be announced, but the show will feature a toy drive benefiting Compassion’s Way, a Columbus-based ministry that focuses on the city’s homeless and underserved populations. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 on the day of the show and can be found here.