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Rico Nasty - Nightmare Vacation (Album Review)

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 Written by Jacob Brookman

Rico Nasty’s first full album is a punk-trap melange of squawking, whooping and spitting. With that barrage the Maryland wordsmith is sort of delivering on the early promise of mixtapes ‘Nasty’ and ‘Anger Management’, and while ‘Nightmare Vacation’ is inconsistent in quality, there is little doubt that she has what it takes to be a superstar.

We open up with Candy, a slurred, skeezy rap song that swaggers and jinks. There is something of the cyberpunk in Nasty (born Maria-Cecilia Kelly) that recalls another singer of a song called Candy: Cameo. This camp aesthetic is once again revealed on Don’t Like Me, a track that devotes itself to a simplistic and, frankly, pretty annoying vocal motif.

Similarly memorable and irritating is STFU, a song that spills over with excitement but which leaves you feeling like you’ve been physically assaulted.

That said, for all the audio violence here, there is tangible development from Nasty’s earlier work. Her voice is versatile and performances varied, from rapidfire honking on on the aforementioned track, to straight cut old school proselytising on Girl Scouts.

The strongest pop track is probably Loser (feat. Trippie Redd), which bases itself around a sweet summery guitar riff and a floating tonality that intersects with the dual vocals pleasingly. The lyrics themselves talk of high school class battles and teenage angst, and it’s Rico at her most approachable. Before long, though, the opening ‘Bitch!’ of OHFR? is accompanied by gunshots and we’re back on the hard stuff.

‘Nightmare Vacation’ is a decent record but it is strangely unsatisfying. For all the variety, there actually aren’t many memorable tracks and with over 15 different producers credited one suspects this is the exact opposite of what the artist intended. That said, here we have a highly distinctive, idiosyncratic and talented performer who has found an audience, and at 23, it will be  interesting to see how her career develops.

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