Kali Uchis - Isolation

The Quietus

It’s easy to classify Kali Uchis as a Columbian Lana Del Rey, or a West Coast Amy Winehouse. This is the Kali Uchis we fell in love with in her music video for ‘Loner’ two years ago: lips puckered, highlighter sparkling, and bubblegum American drive-in station, a purple silk-sheeted motel room. The luxury is fascinating, and the various feather-tipped sparkly disguises mixed in with her mysterious lyrics and smokey vocal delivery.

In her escapism-drenched debut, Isolation, Karly-Marina Loaiza continues to revel in her lost-girl alter ego Kali Uchis. She sings about herself in the third person on ‘Just a Stranger’, a danceable standout in which bassist and vocalist Steve Lacy sings the hook - “She don’t want love, she wants my hundred dollar bills.” A self-described “hurricane”, Uchis’ wistful vocals float over the driving bass almost threateningly: her delivery is sugary-sweet, but an intimidating confidence and propensity to manipulate rides along with it. She’ll hypnotise you into giving her your money, your attention and your love, then break your heart at the snap of her fingers. One can imagine her writing this track, along with ‘Miami’, ‘Your Teeth in My Neck’, and ‘Dead to me’, while applying false eyelashes and lining her lips in front of a vintage lightbulb-bordered vanity mirror.

Though Uchis’ signature swagger is sustained throughout, she unveils another layer to this character in the rest of this album: one fraught with heartbreak, seclusion and self-doubt. Lead single ‘Tyrant’ touches romantic distrust, while ‘Gotta Get Up’ describes being too depressed to get out of bed. The lyrics of ‘In My Dreams’ come across like self-talk she doesn’t quite believe, as she describes a world without insecurities or drug-rattled family problems. Her swooning vocals are highlighted on horn-heavy, ‘Back To Black’-reminiscent track ‘Feel Like a Fool’, as she swoons about losing a lover to another woman. It’s followed by the even slower, sadder closing track, ‘Killer’. Funk basslines, disco guitar and snappy percussion leaven the heartache across the album.

Kali told Fader magazine that she felt “more in tune” with herself in the creation of this album, and the melancholic lyrics clearly contain moments of honesty. They also feel romantic, in the sense of a troubled celebrity or a Shakespearean tragedy. With features like BIA, Jorja Smith, Reykon, Tyler The Creator and Bootsy Collins, Uchis’ debut is clearly meant to make a big impact, and her romantic-tragic persona complements it beautifully.

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Wed Apr 04 12:21:02 CEST 2018

86

Pitchfork

The debut album from the Colombian-American singer is a world of her own. Her wide range pulls in sounds from reggaetón, funk, and R&B and positions her to become a new gravitational force in pop.

Wed Apr 11 07:00:00 CEST 2018

80

The Guardian

Virgin

As is routine for budding popstars nowadays, Kali Uchis made her name by bequeathing her vocals to tracks by more famous artists – Major Lazer, Tyler, the Creator and Snoop Dogg among them. But her debut album – a collection that pivots around a stark, almost satirical juxtaposition between saccharine sound and bleak subject matter – suggests the Colombian-American musician has the vision to establish a career just as distinctive as those of her early champions.

Isolation is a place where head-in-the-clouds fantasy rubs up against cold, savage reality – blissful dream sequences give way to disturbing tales of exploitation over a backdrop of lush and sleepy retro-R&B, occasionally spiked with the hypnotic lurch of reggaeton. Feel Like a Fool sees Uchis vent about a cheating boyfriend through the syrupy sound of 60s girl groups; Tomorrow’s pillowy production cushions a story about a girl forced into sex work by her father, while In My Dreams examines the joys of self-delusion via a whimsical falsetto and tinny synth-line. It’s a dichotomy reflected in the album’s making – a process that spanned both wildest dreams-territory (recording with icons like Bootsy Collins) and the stuff of nightmares (Uchis began writing it at a time when she was living in her car).

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Fri Dec 21 10:30:24 CET 2018