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Nilüfer Yanya - Miss Universe (Album Review)

Thursday, 28 March 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Photo: Molly Daniel

One of the great strengths apparent in Nilüfer Yanya’s early work was its imperviousness to outside noise. As the hype machine began to bubble her songs simply went about their business, melding gleaming indie-rock with the rhythmic, snotty cool of her melodies.

Yanya’s debut LP, ‘Miss Universe’, has a similar sense of calm, from its winking title down. It’s a triumph of sharp, engaging songwriting and a joyful exercise in pop literacy, cribbing a couple of Careless Whisper sax lines and a dash of ‘Tasty’-era Kelis to augment some gnarly guitars and new wave hooks.

There are whispers of London art-rock—a drawl that is a little like a King Krule you’d be happy to have at a party—and Yanya cuts them with effervescent pop smarts. At times, her melodies channel the multi-syllabic smoothness of D’Angelo, but around them her songs buzz and pogo.

The opening run—In Your Head through to Angels—is fabulous, shining a light on each corner that Yanya intends to investigate further. These songs pop and whirr and shimmy, but the ensuing Paradise is more subtle in its approach.

Its refrain is initially low key and undulating, doing without the bells and whistles that thrilled only moments ago, and when it breaks open at its conclusion the effect is like seeing Yanya’s writing evolve in real time.

Lyrically, she goes in for big images and lacerating analysis. There are moments of paranoia, and barely contained rage, but also others where she appears to be operating outside of herself. On Angels her perception is crystal clear: “Got to earn, got to decide who to please.”

‘Miss Universe’ is also a very modern record, for better and worse. Its 17 tracks, including several skits, make it a little unwieldy and it’s sometimes trapped between two poles: a real, back to front whole and a teetering stack of content to conform to the optimal streaming model.

The strength of the material, though, suggests the former is the real consideration. The closer, Heavyweight Champion of the Year, is the sort of measured, deliberate statement that artists set aside for a special spot in the running order but, in truth, there are so many highlights here that any number of songs could have taken on this responsibility. ‘Miss Universe’ is a confident, supremely enjoyable statement from a star in the making.

Nilufer Yanya Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 03 2019 - GLASGOW CCA
Thu April 04 2019 - MANCHESTER YES (Pink Room)
Fri April 05 2019 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat April 06 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Think Tank?
Mon April 08 2019 - LEICESTER O2 Academy2 Leicester
Tue April 09 2019 - LONDON EartH
Thu April 11 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Fri April 12 2019 - BRISTOL Thekla
Sat April 13 2019 - OXFORD O2 Academy2 Oxford
Sun April 14 2019 - BRIGHTON Haunt

Click here to compare & buy Nilufer Yanya Tickets at Stereoboard.com.





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