Character Development is more than just Evann McIntosh’s transfixing new project; it’s their way of life. Written and recorded primarily in the breakout 16-year-old star’s suburban Kansas bedroom, the collection mixes dark alt-pop and dreamy R&B with streaks of hip-hop, jazz, and funk, calling to mind everything from Prince to Billie Eilish as it grapples with growth and evolution, gender identity and sexuality, freedom, and self-expression.
The writing here is as insightful as it is unpredictable, alternating between earnest poeticism and playful acrobatics, and the production is similarly adventurous, with McIntosh’s longtime collaborator Jesty Beatz once again wrapping her performances in lush, magnetic arrangements. Even at its most densely layered, though, the project remains a work of pure intimacy, a poignant and revealing portrait of modern adolescence from an artist unraveling the mysteries of their psyche one song at a time.
Character Development follows McIntosh’s acclaimed 2019 debut, MOJO, a digital juggernaut that racked up more than 33 million streams in part due to the viral TikTok success of lead single “What Dreams Are Made Of.” Ones To Watch hailed the music’s “self-awareness and vulnerability,” while WWD praised McIntosh’s “maturity and vision,” and Vogue HK declared that they were “ready to conquer the world.” The record also caught the attention of esteemed indie label Mom + Pop, who signed McIntosh over Zoom in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.