Since bursting onto the scene with his brilliant 2021 debut Smiling With No Teeth, Ghanaian-born, Australian artist Genesis Owusu has fast become one of the mainstream’s fastest frontrunners. His freaky, funky sound, which blends the gritty energy of post-punk with hints of electro-pop and hip-hop, has been described as ambitious and boundary-pushing, with instant pop culture appeal – and clearly, it’s paid off. In the years since, Owusu has scored high-profile bookings at international festivals, performed sold-out shows at the Sydney Opera House, and recently supported Paramore on their US tour.
While his debut delved into his battles with depression and racism, Owusu’s second album Struggler shifts the focus to explore how to rise up from the ashes. Inspired by existential literature such as Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the album tackles the chaos and absurdity of life across 11 arresting and claustrophobically layered tracks. “There’s an old man in the sky waiting to fuck my life up,” he laments on the rock-tinged “The Old Man”, while on “Freak Boy” he proclaims: “Cosmic dread/ I’ve got a fist full”. Mentions of apocalypse and roaches crop up frequently – and there’s even a subtle nod to The Killers (“I’m tryna break free with a pencilled stanza/ So are we human or are we dancer?”). Admittedly, there’s far less urgency to Struggler compared to his debut: Owusu’s angst simmers, it doesn’t bite. Yet with raw, emotive delivery, it still packs a steady punch.