With generational wisdom on his back and shoegaze at his feet, the hazan turned educator has dismantled the consequences of futurism in four empowering chapters.
Zoomers, digital natives, fresh bloods, this is your almanac. Before you wander off to stamp your Gails loyalty card or chime into the latest tik tok trend, take heed and listen, for yours is a cohort filled with an unpredictability that Hongza knows all too well.
In a world of cancel culture, swellheads and insecure keyboard warriors, pulling aside the burnished iron curtain between the superficial and actuality is a fool’s errand. Everything is overly romanticised and, even the stiffness of politics; as deconstructed in the EP’s indelible opener ‘Accolades’. We as a society possess an obsession with immediacy that refuses to waver. Maneuvering through social media is like enduring a baptism of fire, all the while feeling drunk on paranoia and insecurity.
Propelled by a post punk/noise rock aesthetic, Hongza contrasts the honeyd niceties of dream pop with the peaks and troughs of youth. At the height of this capricious expedition is Cure Me, a dense and shimmering wilderness of mawkish euphoria and remedial healing. Falling in love, irrelevant of age, feels supernatural. The whirling flurry of butterflies frantically gurgling in the pit of your stomach. That flood of dopamine that nestles in every sinew of your body.
Similarly, heartbreak doesn’t discriminate. It’s just as destructive and the road to recovery just as long. Finding himself confidently ambling down the comeback trail, the following number Dream, Eat, Sleep emerges from the fade-out, with Hongza musing over the question of how he got there in the first place.
It’s no secret that Gen Z has cut and run away from the magical spontaneity of the naughties. Long gone are the days of that artificial buzz from a juicy drop pop or when Cartoon Network was actually good. Art Attack, Turkey Twizzlers, we had it all. But technology has since plugged the hole with a cosmetic falsity. The subsequent track is a testament to that, journeying through the skin-deep terrain of cyber relationships. For many it’s a soulless locus. Where uttering sweet nothings can leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth. It is fitting, perhaps, that Hongza’s emotional frustration be portrayed in the most explosive track on the record. You’ve got to unload sometimes.
Listed in the contents of this Gen Z handbook we have the toxicity of social media, the volatile nature of online dating and the sentimentality of young love, what could be next in this hurdle race of roadblocks? The very thing that defines us; identity. In a world of convoluted bureaucracy, where influencers carry more authority than heads of state, skepticism is our daily medicine. Everything is inverted. Self confidence is harder to face than a headteacher’s stare. Hongza however, driven by pragmatism and resistance, has allowed the dust to settle before issuing his final candid battle cry in ‘Identity Crisis’.
From high-and-breathless to low and muttered, his bilateral narration rhapsodises the deep rooted issues facing the youth of today. To quote Wilde’s most famous trivial comedy, there is a vital importance in being earnest, because self-effacement has become such a common and destructive trait. This record bucks the trend of internalising our issues, and one could say, ripped from the Gen Z dictionary, it’s a ‘bop’.