Pink Sweat$ Credit: Jimmy Fontaine

There isn’t much to the story behind David Bowden’s stage name, Pink Sweat$. As the Philadelphia singer-songwriter told DJ Booth in 2018, it was inspired by a passing comment at the studio where he was recording. “I would wear these pink sweatpants every single day,” he said. “This dude, he didn’t know my name, and I wasn’t around, and he was like, ‘Yo, where’s pink sweats?’” Thankfully the songs that Bowden crafted for Pink Planet have a lot more depth: the new Pink Sweat$ album is a soulful tour de force that solidifies his place in the modern R&B canon. Bowden’s career has blossomed since 2011, when he began working at Sigma Sound Studios, the epicenter of Philly soul in the 1970s. At Sigma, he worked as a demo vocalist and songwriter, adding his touch to recordings by the likes of Florida Georgia Line, Tierra Whack, and Max. After Sigma closed in 2015, Bowden turned more of his attention to his own material, and in 2018 he realized his vision of pop-R&B crossover on the debut Pink Sweat$ album, the all-acoustic Volume 1 (Human Resources), whose straightforward love song “Honesty” showcases his heartfelt tenor over nothing but rhythm guitar. On Pink Planet, Pink Sweat$ expands his sound with a bigger band and songs that could’ve come from a modern-day Donny Hathaway (“Pink City,” “Pink Money”). But Bowden hasn’t completely abandoned the minimalism of his first record. “At My Worst,” released as a single last fall, recalls the great songcraft of “Honesty”; its gentle melody, punctuated with finger snaps, feels like a lullaby sung to a sweetheart. On the louder side, “Not Alright” and “Give It to Me” sound like songs that the Weeknd should’ve played at the Super Bowl. With Pink Planet, Bowden has built a world where his ballads can shine.   v