The mixtape format comes in a myriad of flavors, including the hip-hop demo, the Top 40 party mix, and possibly most cliché of all, the romantic mixtape. Of these, it is the latter’s conventions that Dutch musician Floris Bates deconstructs on Baby I Made You a Mixtape. While romantic mixtapes usually contain a series of songs from different eras and genres which are thematically centered on love, Floris Bates twists these conventions by injecting reality into the equation. Sonically, the album sounds like a collection of love songs of varying styles, yet the lyrics are grounded in something darker, resulting in an interesting contrast between what’s being played and what’s being sung.
In order to truly convey the mixtape feeling, Floris Bates centers each song on a different genre. The album’s opener, “In The Winter”, acts as a throwback to soulful pop ballads, complete with warm rhythm guitar and a catchy chorus, while “Aryan Girls” plays out like a new wave reggae rock tune. “Afterschool Romance”, one of the albums standout tracks, is soaked in 50s doo-wop, carried by affection professing lyrics, vocal harmonies, and shooby doobys. Yet the lyrics of the song quickly turn dark as the singer’s proclaims grow more violent and abusive, ending the song with the line “I’ll chain you to the radiator in my heart.” The amazing closing track, “Pyjama Problems”, sounds like a forgotten 80s one hit wonder, made up of a faux duet between two lovers stuck in a fading relationship. In these tracks, we can see that underneath the homages, the brilliance of Baby I Made You a Mixtape lies in its exploration of the often ignored darker sides of love.