The Juicebox is certainly new territory for producer A and vocalist V, for several reasons. Aside from the obvious addition of features, they’ve also been playing with their influences, and testing the waters on their instrumentation and songwriting. There’s an unmistakable growth of Latin flair, made evident with acoustic guitar riffs, salsa-esque percussion and the obvious presence of Latin influenced artists like Becky G and YENDRY – not to mention them both singing Spanish on their features.
The production by the pair has also reached new heights, displayed best on “Lock It Up” with another R&B duo and Avant Garden labelmates THEY., where the vocals are mixed to perfection with the track, forming both an incredible song and a showcase of Emotional Oranges’ talent. Their collaboration with fellow Avant Garden labelmates Chiiild, harnessing their dreamy sounds to make something unheard of from Emotional Oranges, and they wear it triumphantly. It’s apparent why A was an audio engineer for the likes of Drake.
Granted, there are moments that hark back to previous hits – there’s no denying that “Back & Forth” with Cutthroat Boyz member Vince Staples is a dead ringer for the popular “West Coast Love” from their last volume of songs. And while the emotional “Give Me Up” with Kiana Ledé showcases the aforementioned Latin influence, the lyrical content and 20 second epilogue each keep Emotional Oranges grounded in their original style.
The bass-heavy lead single “All That” with deep-voiced Channel Tres, could arguably called a departure for the duo; effortlessly and smoothly bringing the featured artist into the mix, and while most of the tracks do this, others don’t quite engage in the same way. It’s a shame that London’s own Biig Piig is only heard for the opening verse of “Body & Soul”, as it sadly leaves a hunger for more of the soft and sexy vocals.
Even as a progression from the last two albums, The Juicebox somewhat loses its individuality and focus due to the presence of all these superstars. Their previous two projects, The Juice: Vol. I. & II., were an incredibly intimate affair by Emotional Oranges. Oozing with sex and drama as they detailed the ins and outs of relationships, this was made all the juicier due to it feeling like a personal conversation between the pair. With additional artists entering the mix it’s understandably hard to keep the intimacy going as it naturally changes each tracks weighting. Thankfully, this also works in its favour, with a fresh perspective and flair coming to the music and, naturally, the stories sung.
The Juicebox is an incredible body of work from Emotional Oranges, and this is the product of their willingness to experiment, and trying new things and collaborate with others. There’s no doubt that these two are going to take their clandestine operation to dizzying new heights.