NYC-via-Malaysia rising queer alt-pop artist a kid named rufus (they/them) shares their debut album whatever works via Nettwerk. After a series of singles and a debut EP under their belt, the songs from a kid named rufus’ whatever works mark a giant leap forward—both sonically and lyrically—as they solidify their artistic and personal identity.
The obstacles in a kid named rufus’ journey are captured on their open-hearted, ultra-catchy debut album. The assortment of tracks is a sublime showcase of their boundary-pushing style and meditative lyrical content alluding to the early but distressing days of adulthood. whatever works is a vibrant and striking collection of songs touching on topics of queerness, identity, homesickness, adulting, love, lust, culture shock, and much more. But maybe most importantly, the album reflects the struggles and personal growth Rufus has endured leading to present day.
a kid named rufus conveys this about their debut album, "‘whatever works’ is an album about my first year in the United States. I started writing the album the summer after freshman year, and I wanted to talk about how much life has changed and how much I still had left to navigate coming from straight out of high school, from a different country, during the peak of a global pandemic. I wrote songs about being broke, dealing with my anxiety, falling in and out of love, coming out as queer, fearing the world, and everything you'd think a teenager on their own for the first time would write about. Making this album was the scariest, yet most fulfilling process I've ever gone through, and I'm so proud of the work I've created. I can't wait for people to hear it.”
The record kicks off with a brand-new offering, the title-track, which serves as a proper introduction to the album. The minute and a half opener provide listeners to Rufus’ personal insight into how being an adult for the first time—from the difficult and scary moments to the confusing times and the uneasy compromises we’re faced with.
Bouncy and bubbly, “the cute girl from brewster hall” tells the story of a kid named rufus’ first love in college and explores the subjects of romance, love, and sexuality. Rufus follows with “how sweet does this sound?” which takes a wilder turn as Rufus reflects on their exposure to sex, kink, and hook-up culture.
A soulful effort centered with youthful optimism, twinkling melodies, and heartfelt alt-pop cadences, “eighteen (ft. Cole Bauer)” reminisces on being younger, wishing things could be the way they used to be. The jangling, synth-packed “tryhard” (co-written with Benji Cormack of slenderbodies) is about letting go of the pressures in your life and freeing yourself of responsibilities.
New track “liability” speaks to the experience of being financially independent for the first time. The captivating “running away from whatever you call paradise” is an exquisite fusion of experimental indie/alt-pop and whimsical storytelling that touches upon the introspection and self-discovery that one comes across in college.
Based on a true story, "stuck in san antonio" is a poignant and emotionally charged song that reflects on a tumultuous relationship. After the emotional fallout, a kid named rufus found themselves in Austin, Texas, where they crossed paths with Benji Cormack from slenderbodies and Alex Alfonzo from Night Cap. The creative synergy was immediate, leading to the swift completion of "stuck in san antonio" within a day. The break-up themed track blends captivating melodies, dynamic guitar riffs, and unsettling lyrics, marking a departure into a new rock-inspired sound for the young artist.
Tongue-in-cheek effort “i hate being cool” talks about the experience of Rufus’ early music career and the incessant questions that they are asked about it from family, friends, and strangers alike. While closing track “everybody hates me” dives into having impostor syndrome and how it takes over the perception of yourself.