Loving pop music sometimes leads to strange fears. When anticipation and fear of disappointment are in turmoil. Say you bought a brand-new album by an artist you really want to believe in without being too sure. That’s because so many artists only have a few tunes in them.
So before cueing in side one of Nilüfer Yanya's debut on my technics, i was anxious, slightly afraid and reminded of the first time i put Amy Winehouse's Back to Black promo cd in the play - days after it had arrived. It wasn’t the case of losing a few euro. No, I wanted to love it so desperately - before even having the chance to listen to it. Without wanting to stress any further similarities but the Debut by Nilüfer Yanya was also ticking any box i hoped - and the some.
Out of the training camp
Where her three EPs simmered - the album burns. This is because of her songs, her guitar playing and the production offer a much bigger punch then before. Apparently she honed her skills in the last months since i saw her perform at the mojo cafe in 2018. And she also welcomed new people in the inner circle, namely Producers John Congleton - who worked with Lana Del Rey and Blondie - as well as Oli Barton-Wood well known for his services for Michael Kiwanuka amongst others.
The debut is a designed as a concept album. So at the beginning we are checking in to the Wwealth ("We Worry About Your Health") corporation that promises paradise - and challenges the way we consider “living“. But you don't to follow this narrative to listen to the whole longplayer.
When the first song starts, you could be forgiven when you thought of a mispress. It is her most direct song for now. The strumming, the melody and a somehow unfamiliar voice made me check the credits. This was a jump back to a decade when the independent scene had pizazz, when a 7" piece of plastic promised/threatened to change your day. You don't have to check the lyrics to know this has anger and frustration inside."In Your Head" blasts like a train through your head fuelled by a distorted guitar that swipes away any fake instagram-stylee smile to go for an arrogant smirk.
This is British pop like it used to be. The kind that had a hard time for a while, when the likes of Skint and Demoralised couldn't find their way in and the buying public was only listening to potential sons and daughters-in-law. While the following tunes never quite reach the pace of this intro, they do feature melodies, riffs and lyrics that add up to long-lasting flavour.
... into the ring
She effortlessly glides between a deep growl and a high falsetto, the latter lets her connect to the listeners of those angelic female singers whose numbers now must be in the thousands. The former clearly show her range and uniqueness in today's young music scene. This is when you can hear that she has experienced more than your average casting show contestant. Like her initiative Artists in Transit, where she and her sister went refugee camps and squats to help in Athens, greece.
Anyone who is put off by the title "Miss Universe" should think again. This is not another social media or record label hype. In fact, i couldn't even find the album in any record store in my hometown days before her concert on April 17th. This is really a shame, for Nilüfer Yanya is part of those "new" British women - like Little Simz, The Tuts, Joja Smith or Saffiyah Khan - who effortessly show that the world belongs to them - and not the same old rock granddads of the past that are featured everywhere. It just shows the declining quality of the music press which plays it safe in selection and quality control. The two reviews in the German press* for example compared her to Sade and asked why using a saxophone is cool again. Unable to acknowledge that yesterdays rules of coolness might not be the guidelines of today. Just like old Vic used to sing: "If you don't know tomorrow/(Then) tomorrow's never gonna know you", Subway Sect 1978.
*) While the english press connects her debut to the netflix dystopia "Black Mirror"