Albums of the year – February 2016
2016 was arguably the year when R&B became the new Rock n Roll. Sure, the genre has seen a steady transformation recently. But this was the year when its innovation became the norm, with even its more mainstream artists (Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Rihanna) releasing their most adventurous albums to date.
But younger artists don’t really do catch up. They dissect, cherry pick and steer, inescapably making a genre their own. This year, Abra and Nao proved they have exciting careers ahead of them. But there’s a quieter contender on the market who might just eclipse them both.
With a mini-album already under her belt, Kilo Kish turned her back on New York’s fashion scene in favour of making music. Smart move. In February, she self-released Reflections in Real Time, an inspiring collection of thoughts and viewpoints narrated by her self conscious as it figured out a path in life.
Consuming all twenty songs (and skits) about confused identity was a lot to ask of a listener. But Kish’s healthy dose of sarcasm and ability to poke fun kept it refreshing throughout. And set against a backdrop of futuristic synths, stop-start beats and creative flourishes, it was an easy ride to go along with.
Seeming understated on first listen, RIRT was packed with ideas that took time to reveal. Self Importance and Obsessing kept the mood trippy, while the urgency on Fulfillment blended nicely with Kish’s humble delivery. But it was on the melancholic Fears of a Dilettante where she connected emotionally. With her voice weakening as she confessed: ‘I’m blowing a good life here’, you couldn’t help but want to lift her up with words of encouragement.
RIRT might well be snapshots of an inquisitive twenty-something woman trying to find her place in a social media obsessed world, but that doesn’t mean only the digital generation can relate. After all, we all share those vulnerable, haunting and liberating moments that end up defining who we are.
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