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Wearing your heart on your sleeve will always be a dangerous thing. The vulnerability that comes with it makes the body’s most vital organ susceptible to internal damage, more commonly known as heartbreak. For some, the risk isn’t enough to tuck the heart away and play defense in the game of love for the future. It’s a driving force that continues the push to find “the one.” This is what Dante Jones and Drew Love — more commonly known as the R&B duo They. — strive to do on their sophomore album The Amanda Tape.
In a successful attempt to strive for conciseness above all else, They. uses just ten songs to paint a picture of continued vulnerability with the end goal of hopefully hitting the jackpot and winning a heart that yearns for love as much as theirs does. The Amanda Tape taps into the varying results of shooting your shot or asking for one last chance at love. The confidence, pleading, confusion, second-guessing, and the acceptance of undesired realities; it’s all found on They.’s sophomore album and it produces a wave of relatability that reminds listeners that fame and success don’t equate to an easier road to love and a happy heart.
The shots at love They. take on The Amanda Tape are at times bold. It’s a hard swing to the home run wall at left-field with the hope that the universe is just kind enough to keep the ball on the right side of the foul ball pole, something that “All Mine” presents. On the track, the duo proves that the conclusion of a relationship doesn’t immediately equate to an extinguished flame of intimacy. The underlying feelings are brought to light despite the other parties’ attempts to move on and continue life with someone else. “You can’t deny what you know,” They. says toxically. “That p*ssy will always be mine.” While the song may be a bit out of pocket in terms of the approach towards a woman in another relationship, it’s clear the attempt wouldn’t have been made if They. didn’t believe it’d be successful.
This brave pursuit of love appears once again on “Count Me In” and “STCU,” both of which strive to start a merry journey towards happy matrimony. However, things begin to change in the second half of The Amanda Tape. Elsewhere, the duo is left to watch their grasp on their relationships loosen to the point of no return. They.’s drive to be at their very best with their partner dwindles on “Losing Focus.” The change is acknowledged, something that pushes Drew Love and Wale more and more to accept the realities of a love that failed to live up to the hype. “On And On” — a wonderfully composed song that hits deep for the listener — is a pleading attempt to their partner to join in on picking up the pieces of their broken love. “Don’t say it’s too late, we can still / Save this thing,” They. heartfully sings on the song. “Ask me, ‘What went wrong?’ / I could go on and on and on.” The song perfectly depicts a heightened sense of the vulnerability the R&B duo displays throughout the album to the point that it’s almost as if you can hear their heart on their sleeve. Unfortunately for They., it failed to produce the result they hoped for.
With that, The Amanda Tape closes with a slow journey towards accepting the reality of heartbreak. “FWM” is the refusal to believe the obvious while the relationship unravels right before the eyes. The album’s outro track, “Conclude,” accepts that the fork in the road isn’t a choice for both partners to pick from, but rather, one that requires separation and a conclusion of the relationship. They. wearing their heart on the sleeve wasn’t enough to strike gold with love, but the calming end to “Conclude” lets listeners know that it’s okay. The pain will be there, but at least all was done in the attempt to win a heart and love they’ve trekked high and low to find.
Unlike most love-related R&B albums we hear, They.’s The Amanda Tape lives in the present. Listeners are invited to indulge in the R&B duo’s present thoughts, worries, and overall feelings that pertain to the relationship they hope to create. The story doesn’t feel like a recollection of memories, instead, listeners walk with They. along the way in real-time and feel the successes and perils of love just as much as the R&B duo does.
The Amanda Tape is out now via Avant Garden/Island. Get it here.