As far as this year’s earliest album releases are concerned, Therapy – the second full-length project from the underground’s very own renaissance man, Polearm – could very well be 2020’s most definitive underground hip-hop release thus far. 

The multi-faceted artist has been consistently putting out work for just over three years to this point in an array of roles. These include his lofi production under the alias halberd, mixing and producing tracks for fellow artists, and of course his own solo projects. 

His discography before this album feels much more in line with where the underground scene currently is sonically, with songs like “Burberry Sweater” and “White Jewels” defining his willingness to develop characteristic and appealing offerings. 

However, this sentiment changed when he dropped “Kombucha” — a track with heavily doctored vocals and a daringly unqiue beat selection. More than anything else, this track effectively broke him out of the mold he had created for himself up to that point, while also helping to pave the way for the distinct and individual sound he creates for himself on this new project as a whole.

Therapy feels like an odyssey in comparison to the rest of his work. Spanning just twelve tracks at one minute each, the project has an equally clear and experimental artistic vision. 

The album opens up with a trilogy of related tracks — all but confiming this notion of a clear narrative being kept in mind and developed as such.

Following this opening trilogy is the album’s lead single “20MISSEDCALLS.” While it does move away from the previous three songs in its beat selection, it makes up for this departure in strides by faithfully keeping to the album’s already established structure and tone, while also serving to shake up the runtime and introducing new sounds that are built upon later in the project.

Tracks towards the middle of the project such as “LIMERENCE,” “2THEBOTTOM,” and “AFRAID OF YOU,” do an incredible job of building upon what was left for them. They all add to the album’s sound in their individual and unique ways while staying on point to create a cohesive listening experience. 

The album closes with the title track “THERAPY” — a song that drops the autotune, vocal effects, and heavy production that has been present in the rest of the project for a short interval before the beat kicks in, and the song starts to come together. One of the most vocally clear songs on the entire project, it draws upon everything he had been building up until this point with several lyrical calls backs to previous songs such as “20MISSEDCALLS” and “WORTH IT.” 

All in all, Therapy is a genuinely beautiful experience. It is truly one of the most enjoyable and coherent albums to come out of the underground scene in a long time. Polearm’s decision to cap off each track at one minute as well creates a fresh and unique dynamic to the project. Even this early in the year, it will certainly be in contention for the title of the underground’s top overall projects of 2020 once it is all said and done.