After two EPs of mellow, moonstruck R&B, Ali Gatie doesn’t waste any time turning his first proper album into a major event. Within its first 10 seconds, WHO HURT YOU? heralds a dramatic change in course by trading out Gatie’s signature after-hours serenades for the taut, ’80s-infused funk of “The Look,” a frisky duet with Oakland neo-soul artist Kehlani that serves as the neon-lined gateway to this eclectic, expansive record. Over the course of these 17 tracks, the Toronto-bred singer seeks to occupy the vacant lane between Drake’s sadboi melodies and The Weeknd’s dramatic big-screen bops, as he embraces more robust, synth-powered rhythms on tracks like “Over You,” while weaving instant earworms from the sort of raw confessionals that are normally confined to DMs (“Thinkin Bout You,” “Crying in the Rain”). Following the late-album peak of “Butterflies”—a breezy folk-hop confection that boasts Gatie’s most irresistible chorus hook to date—WHO HURT YOU? reprises the biggest singles from his previous releases, including his 2019 breakthrough ballad, “It’s You.” The effect is not unlike receiving a greatest-hits-stacked encore at the end of an epic performance, but their reappearance also feels a bit unnecessary: As Gatie proves throughout WHO HURT YOU?, not only has he lived up to the promise of those key early tracks, but he’s fully graduated to the next level.

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