You won't find SAINT PEPSI's Hit Vibes on many "Best of the Year" lists this December (or heck, many "Albums You May Have Missed" lists), which sucks, because it's one of the most fun records 2013 has to offer. And it's totally free.
SAINT PEPSI's Hit Vibes is an album built for dancing shoes, all funk, disco, and soul samples from yesteryear mashed into an irresistible sugar rush. Under the SAINT PEPSI moniker, Ryan DeRobertis blows the dust off records from artists like The Whispers and Jonny Bristol and squeezes from them modern pop bliss. As far as 2013 disco-hall revivals go, Hit Vibes is like the best bits of Random Access Memories sequenced so that there's no excess fat. Watch this video of Michael Jackson gif-ing to "Better," and you'll get the idea.
SAINT PEPSI comes out of the vaporwave movement, a genre whose definition didn't quite solidify during its brief fling with small pockets of the internet in 2012, though "easy listening, chopped and screwed" might be a good starting point. Pitch-shifted elevator music and slowed-down R&B singles are standard vaporwave fare, and while the genre has spawned some very beautiful and very out-there records, on the whole, it's largely been critically ignored. Till now, SAINT PEPSI's relationship to vaporwave has been murky; he's not as artistically experimental as some of his peers, but he has shown chops with lush remixes such as his stunningly breezy take on Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."
On Hit Vibes, however, SAINT PEPSI takes vaporwave's form and gives it an electric shock. The opening sequence of "Hit Vibes," "Have Faith," "Better," and "Cherry Pepsi" makes for a luscious start of basslines, horns, and hooks, and and from there the album alternates between midtempo breathers and dynamite jams. DeRobertis is equally effective whether he's slowing down a Phil Fearon and the Galaxy tune to become a plaintive celebration or revving up a Tatsuro Yamashita song into hard, four-on-the-floor house. He's like a sculptor carving gorgeous pieces out of marble blocks, if the marble blocks were super-obscure disco songs.
Until Hit Vibes, he'd been an eclectic, impressive producer without a distinctive sound. With this, his most unified release to date, he's got one, and it's too delicious to ignore. Hit Vibes is for vaporwave what Deafheaven's Sunbather is to black metal and Disclosure's Settle is to house music: the genre-bending pop crossover that takes the trademarks of the niche and makes them palatable to a mass audience. Turn it on and dance like so: