In a time when we’re riding the storm of whether the album is still a justifiable format, a bold Nilüfer Yanya drops her 17-track album Miss Universe. As an artist who hasn’t been swept away by the attention she’s received since being longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2018, it’s not surprising that this is a work which defies convention.
If you haven’t listened to Yanya before, then prepare to be met with an artist that offers a very unique sound. Her voice is like nothing that’s out there at the moment. She has an ability to create a vocal staccato which she plays effortlessly to produce a vocal effect that implores you to listen up as she sings. Miss Universe is an amalgamation of jazz, soul, electronic, indie and pop sounds.
As the album begins, opening track ‘WWAY HEALTH’ inducts the listener onto a fictional health management programme, that is supposed to “look” after you but ultimately ends up over monitoring you, and tries to tell you how to live your life. The interludes in themselves are a little bit confusing, but if you start to wonder what kind of strange musical journey you’ve signed yourself up for, just take a look at the titles of every track on this album, as they are a good indicator of which mood and situation Nilüfer Yanya is trying to communicate to the listener. Of her album, the 23-year-old singer says that “there’s an anxiety inherent to modern life running through Miss Universe”.
With already released tracks ‘In Your Head’ and ‘Heavy Weight Champion of the Year’ featured in this work, these known songs don’t for one minute hinder the accompanying new and unrealised material. In fact, each one of the 12 tracks (not including the five interludes) stands on its own very comfortably.
After listening to Miss Universe several times to really give each song the attention it deserved, I quickly realised that in order to delve deeply into the psyche of the Nilüfer Yanya experience, 17-tracks are needed. This is an album that flows and stands out because it moves with ease between bedroom pop sounding tracks such as ‘Safety Net’, to guitar-led ones such as ‘Paralysed’ and then onto a song such as ‘Baby Blu’ which has an electro slash Roisin Murphy type vibe to it.
Noteworthy tracks include the aforementioned ‘Safety Net’, the song ‘Angels‘ which the singer says is inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe poem ‘Kingdom by the Sea’ and by the ending of the Noughts and Crosses series by Malory Blackman. The track ‘Paradise’ also brilliantly showcases Yanya’s vocal ability. Miss Universe shows off all of her musical talent and having already released 3 EPs, this is a singer who understands her sound and is clearly staying true to the type of artist that she wants to be.
Miss Universe is out now on ATO.