Believe me, I didn’t make this one easy for myself. I was born in the 1980s. I didn’t live in them. But I remember how I hated those plastic synth sounds growing up and when I was a teenager. I was a sucker for electric guitars, distortion and rough vocals. This music didn’t feel real. Even in the movies the 1980s always looked too slick, too polished, too chique. Men in suits. Women with shoulder pads, perms and what not. I know pictures of my parents from the 1980s, they looked awful.
In music, the trend of going back to the 1980s is nothing new. There’s hardly a pop song today that doesn’t reference the Human League drum sound or the synthesizer stabs. That hollow click. These stale synths. Cheap. Cold. Synthetic. It must have been a weird time back then. Either too colorful or too cold. In my head the 1980s are either black & white or neon-colored. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But today, I find that decade more fascinating than off-putting. The tide has somehow turned.
Abra found her way to my headphones via a promo mail from her label. Her EP fascinates me from the off. Could this have been the soundtrack for Miami Vice? Is this the cool I never understood in 1980s music? The essentials are there: cold, tinny beats, those Casio-keyboard synth sounds and above all a meandering voice, haunting one second, thrilling the next or just dauntingly cool.
Princess‘ six songs are simplistic dabs of cool. They breathe London’s wet and cold clubs and bars as much as they ooze Miami’s plastic glitter and cocaine fueled poolside parties. Abra sounds vulnerable yet untouchable. Her songs are sexy and melodic yet too gritty and drafted to be played on your average pop radio station. They live in dark and sweaty basement clubs yet promise the lush and luxury life one might only dream of. This EP is R’n’B so cold and retro that it makes total sense in the here and now. If you ever wanted to tell your friends to listen to something cool before they know they even liked this kind of music, then play them Vegas or Crybaby. At first they will only nod their heads. But as soon as they tasted the buried hooks, Abra is as addictive as Colombian snow. Let’s sip on our cocktail and wait for the uninitiated to dance on the neon lit club floors.
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