Caught between all manner of vices and battling to stay productive, Nuphzed makes a brutally honest return on Fickle Affection– his first solo release since Dreebalicious three years ago. Intricately dense verses and subtly complex soundscapes belie darker undertones compared to the previous project but, in the familiar presence of his signature quick-footed flows and carefree quips, Nuphzed triumphantly maintains a strong sense of self in the face of this turbulence.

Supposedly inspired by “cocaine and sobriety”, Nuphzed bounces between going out and knuckling down throughout the project and these dualities form a strong underlying theme of ‘Fickle Affection’. He makes no secret of it, either, with the cover art featuring (presumably) Nuphzed stumbling out from a dingy back alley into the open outdoors and with lyrics like “pill dust in vomit, yeah that makes me the sonnest/ honest, I figured it out lost in the forest”. Even the projects tracklist itself is divided- split between five self-produced songs and five remixes of these by the likes of Psalm Trees, Illiterate and Bo Bribery (amongst others), this unorthodox format practically plays out Nuphzed’s conflicting emotions. For example, where lead track ‘Motime’s’ rolling drum patterns and muted samples deliver harsh truths with the nonchalant bounce that Nuphzed is known for, Illiterate’s remix of ‘Motime’ enlists melancholic melodies and wistful trumpets to make these same lyrics seem like an elegy to his bad habits. Reflecting this raw subject matter, Nuphzed’s vocals have grown a smooth maturity to them and these carefully crafted tones are one of the most striking features of the project, stretching out across the original-remix format in an impressive display of depth.

Visually divided between graffed-up backstreets and the Sussex Downs, these dichotomies are woven into every aspect of Fickle Affection.

With lines like “sniff one, write one tell ‘em I’m fine”, title track ‘Fickle Affection’ lives up to its name in teasing out all of these underlying conflicts. As Nuphzed flits between his “fickle” relationships with substances, women and writing, names and places are recounted in a quickfire sequence of events to cinematic effect. This perspective-driven approach runs through the entirety of the project and, indeed, both of its guest features seem carefully chosen to show off the two faces to Nuphzed’s Fickle Affection. Whilst Harvs le Toad and Nuphzed’s softly-spoken retrospections close off the project, skeltering rhyme schemes and mind-bending aphorisms on ‘Phigity feat. Kemastry’ almost feel like being dragged through these gloomy alleyways and sprawling nights out themselves.

With the first five tracks being almost entirely self-produced and featuring practically no hooks, Nuphzed first and foremost communicates an intense sense of himself on Fickle Affection. Vices are by no means new subject matter for Nuphzed however, as the lines “we wanna make tracks but the drugs keep holding us back“ from his verse on fellow Yogocop veteran Benaddict’s single ‘Does Anybody Care?’ echoes throughout this project. As these themes rise to the fore on Fickle Affection, music seems to emerge as both a source of and solace from stress for Nuphzed. Perhaps he resolves this conflict himself in the lines “too soft, too hard, too sensitive/ too cold, too lost, don’t mention it/ change the mood with sentences”, words and stories are one thing that Nuphzed has utmost control over and this project is definitely a testament to that.

Take a dive into Nuphzed’s perspective on Fickle Affection, out tomorrow (30th April) on the legendary Yogocop Records. Cop it here.