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Patrick de Belen’s Full HP hits hard where it counts: lo-fi beats and poetry tending to the sadness love leaves in the cracks between episodes of joy.

Patrick de Belen’s Full HP hits hard where it counts, its lo-fi beats and poetry tending to the sadness love leaves in the cracks between episodes of joy. Writing from his own slice of isolated existence, the Toronto-based poet takes in the day-to-day for what it is: “Using the bandwidth for all the sad shit / getting happiness in fragments.”

Full HP plays with chill waves of nostalgia and grief, an 8-bit aesthetic worked into the lyrics and beats, the album art a home screen image featuring low health points in the nearly empty bar. Treating life like a video game, “Life Is Short” is about belonging and family and the battles we fight to gain enough experience to reach the next evolution of our human form: “Heels are clicking / cmon send me to Kansas.” 

The theme of being caught between generations of family permeates Full HP: “I’m just an extension / Of desperate decisions / And so what is a lineage / If not my own revision.” Relating a common immigrant experience on “Need to Leave,” de Belen challenges our neat notions of home to include the nuances of  abandonment and the disorientation of immigrating, belonging with family, but away from home: “I’m stuck inside a recurring daydream / speeding through the Philippines / Instead of Bay Street.” 

Resisting the displacement and discrimination a lot of immigrant families face in Canada, de Belen writes intergenerational trauma and hope into the same story with a nod to the cosmic connections that tether us together: “Cross all our Hearts / hope to die and add a pinky swear / That you keep a foot in heaven’s gates until you see me there.” Backed by mellow instrumentals arpeggiating the melody, “Stick Around” is less of an ask and more of an acceptance to stay outside the lines of life’s “stencil”.  

Full HP’s eight minutes and twenty-four seconds are an amalgamation of all the joy and anguish stirred up when, instead of settling,  we make room for the “ugly bits” life deals us with or without reason: “If you can’t have me broken then you can’t have it.” A callback to the early days of home life and videogames, Full HP suggests that even as the picture changes, the feeling of family remains.

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