"Rumors" is a slick update on lover's rock, but the title track from Kranium’s new album evokes the atmospheric whoosh of the Weeknd's "Can’t Feel My Face", the blocky synthesizer of Grimes' "Oblivion", and, in its closing moments, a bit of the melodic refrain from Sam Smith's "Stay With Me". Before we even get to what Kranium—a sweet-voiced dancehall artist from Queens via Kingston—is saying, we're hit with a million different references that belie the bright new landscape for Caribbean artists (like Popcaan or Machel Montano) working in cross-over spaces. For Kranium that means Atlantic Records money and Atlantic Records access, a hard-earned victory after the crushing success of his wall-hugging slow wine anthem "Nobody Has to Know", which has been pumping in clubs and cars for more than two years.
The title track is among the highlights on Rumors, which is about sex and love and success; it vacillates in mood between fervent seduction, cocky charm, and downright mourning. Here, Kranium is pleading with a lover caught up in the things people say. He gives her the choice ("If you want to stay, stay/ If you want to leave then leave") while his voice makes his heart clear. The trappings of the dancehall ballad are familiar, but it’s the intricate production and Kranium’s half-soused, half-sensual R&B phrasing that makes this song feel like exciting new territory. Cock your ear a certain way and it could even be a reference track for Rihanna.