After ‘Euphoria’ Success, Labrinth is Back with Solo Project ‘Ends & Begins’

Written by Stephanie Wang, Photo by Jason Renaud

Timothy Lee McKenzie, better known by his stage name Labrinth, is a British singer and producer. He first rose to fame in the UK by collaborating with rapper Tinie Tempah on his single “Pass Out,” which reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. He then had many of his songs like “Jealous'' reach the top of British music charts, while also collaborating with huge artists like Beyoncé, Rihanna, and The Weeknd. He catapulted into fame when he joined supergroup LSD with Sia and Diplo, who released their self-titled debut album in 2018; the album was wildly successful and received a Grammy nomination. 

Despite being better known as a producer and collaborator, Labrinth got his first big scoring debut as the lead composer on hit HBO show Euphoria, while working on his second solo album simultaneously. In addition to scoring Euphoria, Labrinth also incorporated his original songs throughout the show like “Mount Everest” and “All For Us,” featuring the show’s lead actress Zendaya. The soundtrack as a whole was received in an extremely positive light; critics described the music as a blend of electronic, R&B, dance, and hip hop, and that it perfectly complements the journeys that the characters go through on the show. His childhood gospel influences are also evident in the songs “All For Us” featuring a gospel choir and “Love is Complicated (The Angels Sing)” with ethereal, angelic vocals. His scores for both seasons, released in 2019 and 2022, received Emmy nominations and awards. 

Following his massive success with Euphoria, Labrinth recently released his third solo album Ends & Begins on April 28, 2023. The album has 10 songs, featuring singles “Kill For Your Love” and “Never Felt So Alone.” Leading up to the album release, there was immense hype on social media, especially with “Never Felt So Alone” trending on Tik Tok and many fans asking Labrinth to release it on streaming services. Additionally, a week before his album’s release, Labrinth performed at the Coachella festival in Indio, California, bringing out surprise guest Zendaya to perform “All For Us” and “I’m Tired,” both of which were the most noteworthy and popular songs in their season. This performance went viral on social media, getting millions of people excited for his release. 

The album itself takes us on a journey through Labrinth’s distinct gospel-electronic-R&B sound. It starts with his first song on the album, “The Feels.” His signature ethereal sounding chords open until he hits us with a powerful, full-orchestra chorus and heart wrenching vocals; Zendaya’s vocals join during the second verse. He continues this sound into the next track “Kill For Your Love” with his divine vocals during the verse and a dramatic pause before the big chorus. The use of organ and various keyboard synths are also evident in many of his songs; though the organ is not that common in commercial music today, it effectively pays homage to Labrinth’s gospel influences. Halfway through the album, he includes a mostly instrumental interlude titled “A Turn of Events,” nodding to the title as the “beginning” of the album flows into the “end.” The last half of the album holds the well-known  “Never Felt So Alone” track that  already has around 85 million streams on Spotify. His 10th and final titular song keeps a steady and energetic beat throughout to close the album on a positive note.

The album received critical acclaim for Labrinth’s ability to always take the listener on an experimental, celestial journey full of intense moods. Rolling Stone  pointed that out as a reason why he was the perfect pick for such an intense, drama-packed show like Euphoria. However, there were fan sites with people unhappy with the album as a whole, saying that it was disappointing compared to the Euphoria scores. Then again, if one only looks at an artist with as many layers as Labrinth through only one lens, it would be too subjective to judge his music as a whole. Fans of the show might view Labrinth’s Euphoria scores as his greatest work, not his solo music, since they affiliate his scores with the show itself. However, his music is so much more than that. Overall, Ends & Begins is a testament that Labrinth can go beyond his mainstream success with Euphoria and still use his one-of-a-kind sound to create brilliant music.

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