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Self Esteem - Prioritise Pleasure (Album Review)

Friday, 22 October 2021 Written by Laura Johnson

Navigating life as a woman in your 30s can be a daunting task. Should we be married with kids by now? Should we care that we’re not? Should we be wearing this, having sex with them, caring more about things? These are just a few of the many nuanced questions that Rebecca Lucy Taylor addresses on ‘Prioritise Pleasure’, her second album as Self Esteem.

From its title on down this is a more forthright work than its predecessor, 2019’s ‘Compliments Please’, unfolding as a torrent of unapologetic, brazen and heartfelt tracks that hit like a gut punch but resonate like words of wisdom from a friend.

The former Slow Club multi-instrumentalist has crafted a unique pop record that puts dynamic, driving percussion at the forefront, dictating the mood as melody and chords usually do, alongside equally dynamic vocals, ranging from spoken word to gospel-esque choruses. 

She deftly brings together both extremes on I Do This All The Time, confessing: “It was really rather miserable trying to love you.” In pre-album promo, she revealed it was written with Baz Lurhmann’s Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) in mind: “Don’t be intimidated by all the babies they have, don’t be embarrassed that all you’ve had is fun, prioritise pleasure.”  

Each track is intricately composed and considered, with a special nod going to the rousing Still Reigning, on which she eloquently nutshells the dichotomy of emotion: “I feel everything, nothing at all.” The chest-rattling opener I’m Fine offers powerful string motifs, immediately giving a majestic air to proceedings, while How Can I Help You—inspired by Kanye West’s Black Skinhead—brings things back to basics as Taylor dominates the drum kit while delivering mic droppable-line after mic-droppable line.

“I guess I'll be eternally angry for the way as a woman unless you're sweet, nice, settled and quiet, you're considered 'different' and 'difficult,” she said of the track. Songs such as Moody offer up something more mainstream musically, but the Sheffield artist always has a rhythmic ace up her sleeve that truly puts her stamp on it.

‘Prioritise Pleasure’ allows us to join Taylor on her journey towards self-acceptance and self-love, but all the while she’s scoffing in the face of societal expectations and giving a middle finger to those seeking to dim her shine. In the words of true crime podcasters My Favourite Murder: “Fuck politeness!”

Self Esteem Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 22 2021 - LONDON XOYO
Sat October 23 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Rough Trade
Sun October 24 2021 - BRISTOL Rough Trade
Mon October 25 2021 - BIRMINGHAM HMV Vault
Wed October 27 2021 - BOURNEMOUTH Old Fire Station
Thu October 28 2021 - BRIGHTON Resident
Mon November 01 2021 - BRISTOL Fleece
Tue November 02 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Wylam Brewery
Wed November 03 2021 - CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
Thu November 04 2021 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Sat November 06 2021 - EDINBURGH Bongo Club
Sun November 07 2021 - GLASGOW Audio
Tue November 09 2021 - DUBLIN Workmens Club
Wed November 10 2021 - MANCHESTER Gorilla
Thu November 11 2021 - LEEDS Belgrave Music Hall
Fri November 12 2021 - SHEFFIELD Leadmill
Sun November 14 2021 - NORWICH Arts Centre
Mon November 15 2021 - READING Sub89
Tue November 16 2021 - SOUTHAMPTON Joiners
Wed November 17 2021 - LONDON Heaven
Fri November 19 2021 - MARGATE Elsewhere
Sat November 20 2021 - BRIGHTON Patterns
Tue November 23 2021 - EXETER Phoenix
Wed November 24 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Thu November 25 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Metronome
Mon February 28 2022 - HUDDERSFIELD Parish
Tue March 01 2022 - GLASGOW St Lukes
Wed March 02 2022 - LEEDS University Stylus
Thu March 03 2022 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Fri March 04 2022 - BRISTOL Trinity
Wed March 23 2022 - MANCHESTER Cathedral
Thu March 24 2022 - LONDON O2 Forum
Fri March 25 2022 - SHEFFIELD Octagon

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