‘Good Times Ahead’ blends genres, features variety of artists

It’s no secret that Miami is the hotbed for all things electronic music. Our city has been the stomping ground of some of the genre’s biggest superstars, such as Steve Aoki, not to mention the fact that Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami is home to Ultra Music Festival, one of the world’s largest electronic music festivals.

GTA (which stands for “Good Times Ahead”), a D.J. and production duo consisting of 25-year-olds Matt Toth and Julio Medija, may be Miami’s next electronic sensation. The two have already amassed a wealth of achievements, such as collaborations with both Diplo and Skrillex, performing at Lollapalooza and touring the world with Rihanna. Now, GTA has released their debut album “Good Times Ahead,” featuring guest appearances such as singer Tinashe and rapper Vince Staples.

The album starts off strong with “True Romance” featuring Jarina De Marco, as much pop and R&B as it is electronic, followed by “Little Bit of This” featuring Vince Staples, which features some killer verses from the Long Beach rapper over a hard instrumental that perfectly fuses hip-hop with some strong electronic influences. With “Feel It” featuring Tunji Ige, listeners finally get a track that is right at home at Ultra with its driving synths and bass, as well as another great rap verse that elevates the song even further. With “Heartbeat” comes a curveball, as what sounds like a shiny pop track suddenly gives way to a dark and minimalistic drop, before successfully digging its way back out again.

Wax Motif brings catchy melodies on “Get It All” and, although the track succumbs to a handful of overplayed EDM tropes, the vocal performance is exciting enough to keep the song interesting throughout. “All Caught Up” featuring Tinashe, while sounding like an AlunaGeorge throwaway track at times, still comes through with some worthwhile musical climaxes both vocally and instrumentally. “In My Nature” featuring Karina, on the other hand, is hard to be described as anything other than “nothing special” with some of the most uninteresting instrumentation and singing on the album thus far.

Staccato, robotic arpeggios punctuate “Pressure” featuring RKCB, a song that won’t blow any minds but will rather keep heads rocking back and forth. The penultimate track “Contract” featuring Iamsu! is another definite highlight, showing that GTA’s exploration of hard-hitting rap tracks is certainly one of their most successful and entertaining directions musically. Finally, we’re left with “Illuminate,” which fails to take us out on much of a high note, as the grating synth-driven drop makes listeners want to turn it off.

Overall, GTA’s “Good Times Ahead” does something important. It fuses electronic music with pop, hip-hop and R&B in more adventurous ways than the myriad of trendy and ultimately lame attempts that seem to be dominating the pop charts at the moment. While the album certainly isn’t safe from verging on generic at times, it is definitely able to counter that with a handful of successful pop tunes, rap bangers and EDM tracks.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars