Advisory: The above video/song contains language that some may find offensive.
It's easy to see what drew BOSCO and St. Beauty together. They're both based in Atlanta; they have a knack for blending elements of R&B, indie and soul; and they're involved in similar efforts to support artists of color. While St. Beauty is part of Wondaland Arts Society — a record label and collective created by Janelle Monáe — Brittany Bosco is the founder of SLUG, an agency created to support members of the DIY scene in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, especially artists of color. ("Where an opportunity does not exist yet, we create it," SLUG's website reads.)
In August, Monáe posted on Instagram that, "in more exciting #BlackGirlMagic news," St. Beauty's debut EP was coming soon. The duo had already released "Going Nowhere" — their contribution to an album showcasing all of the Wondaland artists — and other singles like "Borders" and "Holographic Lover" back in 2016. Also in August, BOSCO released her album, b., featuring a collaboration with the duo, "Castles."
While other songs by St. Beauty have been more subdued, BOSCO brings a refreshing energy to "Castles," and together they create a song that's upbeat enough to nod with. The heavily delayed piano line, which both kicks off and girds the song, contrasts with its simple, thudding electronic bass line. The song grows more complex as its multiple voices are layered, the vocalists answering each other and finishing each other's lines. BOSCO oscillates between taunting her ex ("In my hand I hold your life span / 'cause no one does it better") and reminding herself to resist the temptation to go running back ("Cancelled plans with my friends / not for him, not today.")
"Castles" mixes airy vocals, grounded instrumentals, and images of crumbling crowns to describe a relationship given two (or three) too many chances. It captures the mixed emotions felt after a breakup, when you're walking away but still turning around to look behind you — or trying to fight the urge to.