Seattle-raised vocalist Highway is the kind of rapper-producer who understands that well-curated vibes are their own art form. He orbits the same universe as many other somber rap-crooners, but he’s not as emotionally distant as Dro Kenji or joony, and not as aloof as Destroy Lonely or Ken Carson. Though he often follows in the same cold-hearted player blueprint as the rest, if you dig deeper, you’ll find that his songs skew disarmingly romantic, tackling missed connections and intense affairs. Imagine if Future walled himself off in his codeine palace for a few months and listened to nothing but Blxst and SahBabii albums, and you’ll be close to grasping the duality that Highway represents—a puppy-dog lover roleplaying as a svengali. That eclecticism amplifies his latest album Monochrome, a project as steamy and enveloping as a post-workout sauna session.

As a rapper, Highway typically eschews clever witticisms, instead opting for confessional writing that wrings pathos and humor out of his lifestyle. On “Don’t Lie,” he admits to showing up early to a date’s house and nervously smoking a dozen blunts before peppering his lover with sweet nothings. It’s just enough for the ending—the most sexually charged weed cypher this side of Lil’ Kim’s “Drugs”—to shake the table. One song later, on “Show Goes On,” he’s hooking up with twins and dropping puns that would make Chow Lee (Long Island’s horny drill impresario) blush. You never know which version of Highway you’ll get song-to-song, but it’s always entertaining, because he knows how to squeeze the most mileage out of his bars in any given situation.

He accomplishes this feat by switching up his flows, singing and rapping, and leveraging his pristine ear for beats. His staccato, Playboi Carti-esque delivery on “Show Goes On” flies, while the balladry of “All U Needed” and “Sin City” drips with a syrupy glaze. Meanwhile, “Jet” and “on dat shit” settle into bouncy swag rap. Highway’s melodic style translates well to just about every form he takes, whether he’s talking about ghosting one-night stands or falling hard for one.

The beats keep up with this shifting template. Highway is an accomplished producer in his own right—he’s worked with Chief Keef and co-produced his last handful of projects—but mostly backs off the boards here. Many of the songs here boast at least two beatmakers, making for a gaggle of collaborators that offers up variations on synth and 808 arrangements. Two names that consistently show out are Houston producer and longtime creative partner xjay, as well as jetsonmade, the South Carolina musician who played a pivotal role in defining DaBaby’s sound in the late 2010s. They each work well enough by themselves: jetson’s synthetic horns and bass give “Sin City” a sultry wiggle, and xjay’s blown-out drums on “on dat shit” crackle like rock candy. But their two link-ups on “B & W” and “Let Up” are among the album’s most effortless, creating a bedrock that allows Highway to gloat and flaunt his way to the top.

Monochrome is an album where the beats feel bleached but deeply textured, where the emotions and motivations of its protagonist simultaneously oppose and complement each other like a yin-yang symbol. The lane of moody sing-rappers is more crowded than ever, but Highway’s variety and command keep him from drowning in the mix. Unlike his peers, there’s an organic sepia tone to his words and affect—not surprising for an artist who hails from grunge’s birthplace—that never devolves into pastiche. Whether he’s planning a perfect night or reminiscing on a regrettable one, the vibes will always be immaculate.