Release Date: Feb 24, 2015
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Left-Field Pop
The debut full-length album from producer/songwriter Emile Haynie, 2015's We Fall, is a lush, star-studded affair that puts a spotlight on Haynie's grand, cinematic pop aesthetic. Having begun his career working primarily with hip-hop artists like Eminem, Ghostface Killah, and Kid Cudi, Haynie eventually expanded his reach, helming productions for such top-tier pop names as P!nk, OneRepublic, Bruno Mars, and others. With his varied musical background, Haynie has a crate digger's taste for vintage vinyl sounds, as well as a DJ's skill for recontextualizing those sounds with contemporary pop sensibilities.
Perhaps more than any other grand album-making tradition, the breakup record is the one that earns the most empathy before it even exists. Critical acclaim tends to follow suit, or at least some adulation aimed at the bleeding heart on stage is damn near a given. For some, this is as brief as a song (Eminem, “Kim”), for others a full album (Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks) or two (Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreaks and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy).
Producer and songwriter Emile Haynie has lent his expansive, high-drama sound to albums by Kanye West, Lana Del Rey, Eminem and fun., among others. On his solo debut, he pulls together a roster of A-list friends (Del Rey, Nate Ruess, Rufus Wainwright, Lykke Li) and idols (Brian Wilson, Randy Newman) for a breakup-themed LP that merges slow-mo hip-hop beats and orchestral pop into something that aspires to be a 21st-century Pet Sounds. The ornate tracks are as wow-worthy as the guest list — so it's surprising how same-y the mood of wallowing grandeur can get.
Though the sounds of Top 40 remain largely stagnant this year, there have been several mold-breaking exceptions in Q1, eschewing the typical pop format for subversion that doesn’t sacrifice hooks. Most of them, not shockingly, come from overseas, where producers are still churning out the world.
Here’s one way to get over a tortured breakup, Los Angeles-style. If you happen to be a million-selling producer and songwriter, you can hole up for six months in Room 39 of the Chateau Marmont, set up a recording studio, turn wounds and sulking into songs, and invite a multigenerational assortment of singers to add vocals. That’s what Emile Haynie did to record “We Fall.” Lana Del Rey and Nate Ruess, from Fun., join him for a song each, along with musicians as disparate as Randy Newman and Lykke Li.
Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: A successful pop producer with ties to Bruno Mars assembles an unlikely crew of guest stars to make his own album of classically minded songs. No, it’s not Mark Ronson, who enlisted rapper Mystikal and novelist Michael Chabon to explore old-school funk and Steely Dan-style rock on the just-released “Uptown Special.” This is a modal window. Instead, meet Emile Haynie, one of Ronson’s creative partners on Mars’ 2012 hit “Locked Out of Heaven.” A well-connected studio whiz known for his hollowed-out beats and woozy synth textures, Haynie has become a go-to collaborator for artists like Eminem, Lana Del Rey and Kanye West.