I kinda slowed down on the new music in the past few months, and music in general to be honest, because for some reason I’ve preferred listening to YouTube creators and podcasts lately. However I did find time for a few great releases from this and past years.
I loved Rosalía’s El Mal Querer, and this third album from the young Spanish singer is even more playful, ambitious and diverse. At sixteen tracks, there’s always a danger of a record outstaying its welcome, however Motomami consistently delivers as it toys with styles and genres: flamenco rhythms, Latin pop bangers, hip-hop, glitchy electronica, minimalist ballads. This sonic collage could have been hella messy, but it’s threaded together by Rosalía’s sheer confidence and youthful energy, not to mention her dazzling, nimble vocals that are equal part sass and vulnerability.
There’s a couple of more openly commercial moments, such as sexy La Fama, on which R&B superstar The Weeknd shows up to croon in Spanish, but overall the album is as experimental and left-field as its predecessor. Bulería, the lone traditional flamenco song (though still updated to sound more futuristic than your old-school flamenco) is a great showcase for Rosalía’s thrilling vocal fireworks – don’t try this song at a karaoke! Another personal favourite is Hentai, a lovely stripped down, sensual ballad.
I’m still making my way through the albums that popped up on last year’s Best Of lists, and this release from the American indie rock singer-songwriter (real name Mackenzie Scott) caught my attention with Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in my Head, the kind of anthemic, euphoric, hook-laden rock paean to love you rarely hear these days. I was surprised to read later that this kind of joyous music is not Torres’ usual style; if the heart-warming accompanying video is anything to go by, it must have been inspired by the high of a happy romantic relationship. Her gritty powerful voice feels so naturally suited to this stadium-sized sound it’s hard to imagine that she hasn’t been doing it all along.
The rest of the album sticks to the same exuberant mood and brash, bombastic songs, with a few outliers like Big Leap, a sombre, tender ballad about a loved one’s near-fatal accident (or suicide attempt). After multiple listens, I’m still not fond of the closer Keep the Devil Out and its noisy industrial-sounding chorus, but I can live with a lone dud.
I liked Nilüfer Yanya’s 2019 debut album quite a lot, even if it was on the overlong side and the overarching concept of satirising wellness industry felt rather superfluous. Her follow-up is still rooted in the offbeat indie rock of the 80s and 90s, but it’s a far more focused and refined album, with Yanya’s eclectic tendencies restrained to a good effect. Her expressive smoky voice, reminiscent of Sade, is maybe easier to fall in love with instantly than her melancholic, disquieting songs. Mostly groove-based, they require repeated listening to discover the beautiful melodies and interesting little details, though the gorgeous trouble had me at hello.
As an aside, in this age of oversaturation and endless music choices available on multiple platforms, it can be hard to decide when to give an artist a chance, and spend a bit more time with their music even if it didn’t hook you in straight away. It’s all too easy to just say “no thanks” and move on to the next thing, yet I can think of so many now-favourite albums that required time to grow on me… yet at the same time you still clearly need something to make you persevere because there are only so many hours in the day.