Next week marks one year since Gustav “Lil Peep” Åhr died of an accidental overdose of Fentanyl and Xanax. At 21 years of age, his music career was just getting off the ground, but his unique sound resonated heavily with a lot of people. On Halloween, the New York Times published an excellent article about how his unreleased music has been handled by his family, friends, and record label. Its title? “Lil Peep Died Before Becoming Pop Royalty. His New Music May Change That.”
Lil Peep’s first posthumous album, Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2, indeed includes some of his best songs, and it plays like a soothing salve. It is a haunting album that shelters the bereaved, albeit for a short while. The album begins in silence before building with an eerie, stirring, almost creepy steel drum melody. It’s like Peep is rising from the dead, taking a deep breath, and stretching out his limbs. Then it gives way to a signature Peep guitar riff and line. “She was the one with the broken smile / now that it’s done, she was the one,” he laments, signaling that his emo-rap brand is truly alive and well.
The familiarity of Peep’s music is the most comforting thing about Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2, and the fact that it is so obviously his is not detrimental. It would almost be weird if the album sounded different from his other music. Even so, while Peep’s artistic genius stemmed from making music about sex, drugs, depression, and death, some lyrics are especially painful given his untimely passing. On standout “Life is Beautiful,” Peep raps “wake up in the morning, now you’re doing the impossible / find out what’s important, now you’re feeling philosophical / when I die, I’ll pack my bags, move somewhere more affordable.” Coming from Peep, such a line isn’t just clever, its cutting and overwhelming.
On the fantastic closer “Fingers,” Peep disguises some similarly depressing lyrics with his happiest sounding song in years.
How can I not stare, the way that you’re glowing?
I am a nightmare you don’t wanna know me
Running my fingers through your hair
Makes me remember everything, why don’t you hate me?
“Fingers” showcases what made Lil Peep so great, and that was his surprisingly endearing tenderness and vulnerability. The anxiety of not being worth it or deserving of someone’s love is palpable, raw, and relatable and Peep’s hypnotic delivery over the gushingly emotional music was the moment that moved me the most. The song and album itself ends with the words, “I’ll be the first there / and I’ll be the last there / I’m not gonna last here / I’m not gonna last long.”
Shortly after Gustav Åhr passed away, a fan-made music video of “Star Shopping” was put up on Youtube. After the song plays through once, it is edited into a transition of Lil Peep performing it live. The audience sings the entire song with him acapella while the video cuts to a slideshow of pictures from his childhood and life. It’s a gorgeous and powerfully moving tribute from a loving fan which serves as a small window into the star potential of Lil Peep and what could have been.
Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2 as a whole is not perfect, but it does not have to be. The mere fact that Lil Peep’s mother, his friend/producer Smokeasac, and record label all made this project possible is a blessing. It is as if Gustav is back from the dead, a spectral presence who over the course of 38 minutes is here to haunt us. Only this ghost isn’t malicious or scary, it’s a loved one stopping by to make sure we know they are in a better place, that they are okay.