‘If Looks Could Kill’ is filled with diamonds if you’re willing to search through its rough


For the past year, it’s seemed as if Destroy Lonely can do no wrong. Since signing to Playboi Carti’s Opium label, hip-hop’s most fresh and exciting collective in years, Destroy Lonely has ascended higher and higher amongst rap’s hottest names while amassing a cult-like fan base alongside his frequent collaborator and fellow labelmate Ken Carson. After chipping away at the underground for a few years with ethereal singles like Bane and promising mixtapes like </3, Destroy Lonely would break through in the August of 2022 with the release of his debut album NOSTYLIST, his strongest work yet which was met with rave reception and followed by a sold-out tour.

As the dust of NOSTYLIST settled, Destroy Lonely would officially release the much-anticipated snippet of If Looks Could Kill on March 2nd, a lead single to an upcoming album of the same name. With a dark guitar-laden beat and spacey vocals, If Looks Could Kill promised a turn for his most alternatively-influenced music yet.

As the track would pick up steam, Destroy Lonely would announce a full-length LP of the same name, If Looks Could Kill,  sporting an ominous cover.

Riding a wave of momentum that had been surmounting over the past year, with the release of this new album, Destroy Lonely stood at a crucial intersection between flying further into the mainstream or coming to a screeching halt.  For the first leg of the album, it seems to be the former.

If Looks Could Kill begins with how u feel?,  the album’s crown jewel. The track is a terrific intro with a layered and complex guitar chord progression that takes you into its hazy atmosphere.  The following streak of tracks see Destroy Lonely meeting the expectations for the album’s sound, building on the rock-influenced groundwork laid by the album’s lead single, whether that be more tranquil tracks like fly sht and which one or harsher tracks like raver and came in wit.

But then, only about 6 tracks in, If Looks Could Kill loses momentum. The ambient guitar beats begin to blend more and more into each other and the album’s fresh sound very quickly turns stale. And the most pressing roadblock that comes in the way of looking past this issue, is If Looks Could Kill’s behemoth runtime. At an hour and 23 minutes, or 26 tracks, If Looks Could Kill is mind-bogglingly long and it struggles to go the distance with a lack of instrumental versatility. So, only about a fourth of the way, it runs out of gas, sputters out, and spends its next hour and change trudging along its unjustified length with little differentiation. 

Along the way they are diamonds in the rough, where Destroy Lonely flexes the versatility that made NOSTYLIST so addictive and showcases new weapons in his sonic arsenal. But, there’s a lot of rough.

And this proverbial ‘rough’, doesn’t even mean the songs are bad. Many of these songs in isolation, whether that be in a playlist or in the car, are of quality. The issue is the redundancy.

So, many of the gems that make the remaining 60 minutes of If Looks Could Kill worthwhile, are the ones that stray away from its common sound. By the pound, chris paul, and new new stand out with exuberant beats and addictive hooks from Destroy Lonely. As Lone makes his way throughout the albums duration more noteworthy songs appear. I could listen to the otherworldly sounding wagwan and passanger for hours on end as well as brazy girls which features one of If Looks Could Kill’s best use of guitar. 

Lone ties any loose ends with the potent one-two punch conclusion of the nearly six-minute-long safety – interlude followed by the equally as hard-hitting your eyes, both of which feel like some of the album’s most complete tracks. 

Its brighter moments have kept me coming back but front-to-back, it’s a tough listen. I’m not the only one who feels this way either. Daniel Min, a senior and dedicated fan of Opium and Destroy Lonely, shared a similarly critical perspective. 

However, everytime I listen to the album again I find myself adding more and more tracks to my playlist. I feel like this is definitely an album that takes some time to grow on you and to appreciate each song.

— Daniel Min, Senior

“Listening to 26 songs back-to-back kind of numbed my mind to the music after a while,” Min said. “However, everytime I listen to the album again I find myself adding more and more tracks to my playlist. I feel like this is definitely an album that takes some time to grow on you and to appreciate each song. Overall though, it lacks distinctiveness compared to NOSTYLISTNOSTYLIST has hype, chill, and ambient tracks scattered all throughout the album, allowing for greater replayability because of the distinctiveness and uniqueness of each track.  So many songs like VETERAN, NOSTYLIST, and TURNINUP sound completely different from one another but are so good with unique sounds and flows. This is definitely something that Destory Lonely’s new album lacks.”

There are enough glimmers of light in If Looks Could Kill for Destroy Lonely to remain one of the brightest stars in rap today. However, this is his most divisive work to date, and it’s not hard to see why. Though not perfect, it is a step forward. Destroy Lonely continues to craft his most adventurous sounds yet, but he has a long way to go.