Albums I’ve Loved Recently: Kilo Kish, Ibeyi, Luna Ki, Alec Benjamin

We’re almost halfway through the year and a lot of great albums have come out since! Today, we’re looking at four projects I’ve been binge-listening to in the past month.

AMERICAN GURL, Kilo Kish

Credits: Kilo Kish

Release date: March 25, 2022

Label: Kisha Soundscape + Audio

Kilo Kish is an American singer-songwriter but also a visual artist. We love to see that! AMERICAN GURL is her second album and it presents a concept structure: two girls are (apparently) playing an old-fashioned game named like the album itself–a game that (spoiler alert!) will disappoint them by the end.

The first, homonymous track is bomb, plain and simple: Kish’s heavy synthpop production still leaves room for emotion. From there, there’s an alternation of faster- and slower-paced tracks. The echo added to her voice sometimes contributes to making her vocal performance very enjoyable.

Just like the 80s-inspired intro (which reminded me of some scenes in Stranger Things when the characters play videogames using those machines that were so popular at the time), Kish is redesigning 80s synthpop with a contemporary touch, building AMERICAN GURL not only as an auditory but also visual experience (I don’t know about you, but I could literally visualize a potential music video for each song).

Among my favorite tracks (besides the above-mentioned “AMERICAN GURL”) we find “DISTRACTIONS III: SPOILED ROTTEN,” “NO APOLOGY!,” “BLOODY FUTURE,” and “ATTENTION POLITICIAN.” Overall, a very solid effort that makes me want to check her previous album as well.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Spell 31, Ibeyi

Credits: Ibeyi

Release date: May 6, 2022

Label: XL Recordings

I think I had heard of Ibeyi before but I had never listened to any of their music. The Paris-based, Venezuelan/Cuban twins have just released their third album Spell 31.

As somebody who was not very familiar with their music, the first track, “Sangoma,” blew me away, especially the melodies of the line “This is where we collide.” Got listen to it by yourself. It’s just, wow!

O Inle” introduces another very fun truck featuring Pa Salieu, “Made of Gold:” again, the overlaying of vocals on this track is insane, and more in general, the performances are great throughout the album.

I especially appreciate this sacred feel to it, as if we’re being invited to a private ritual. The keyword here is “spiritual:” spirituality is present in the entire project (not sure if this is the same in their previous ones as well).

Two more songs I’ve loved–again, featuring some of the most sublime melodies and arrangements I’ve heard recently– are “Foreign Country,” “Lavender & Red Roses” and “Los Muertos,” which is a great track to conclude the album.

Although the other songs appear at times repetitive, Spell 31 will take you to another dimension and back in less than half an hour.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

CL34N, Luna Ki

Credits: Pablo Zamora / El País

Release date: May 20, 2022

Label: LUNA KI

I discovered non-binary, Barcelona-born artist Luna Ki when I watched this video by Jaime Altozano, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Their style, aesthetics and heavy use of autotune make them an extremely recognizable figure in the Spanish music scene: nothing of what they do relates to tradition (see Rosalía for this). They seek revolution, destruction and sexuality.

After releasing an EP quite some time ago, CL34N is their first full-length album. The first track, “Buenos Días (Sinfónica)” isn’t exactly what we would expect from a character like Luna Ki, and I think that’s exactly why they chose it to open the album: the song presents a melodic production juxtaposed to their autotuned vocals. Quite a clash, if you ask me.

Though Luna Ki has been heavily criticized for being so attached to autotuned, one thing they’re extremely good at (and their music proves that) is building melodies over melodies, just like Ibeyi but in a more futuristic fashion: “Toke Manga” is an intimidatingly fun song (it could also be classified as a rap song); “Huérfana” is lighter but still catchy as hell; “Do Re Mi Fa Sol” is a creepy ballad where they express their desire for seeing their lover “naked, dead;” while “Dispara” is pretty self-explanatory.

There are plenty of songs I loved even ahead of the release of the album: the banger “Piketaison” featuring Lola Indigo, “Disney” featuring Babi, ” Voy a Morir” (a runner-up to the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest), “Febrero” and “Putón” were all strategically dropped beforehand as an appetizer to the main dish. And it worked. It absolutely worked.

I’m very excited to see where Luna will go from here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

(Un)Commentary, Alec Benjamin

Credits: Alec Benjamin

Release date: April 15, 2022

Label: Elektra

Adding to the first-time-I-listen-to-this-artist list, Alec Benjamin released his third album, (Un)Commentary and I’m blown away by the sweetness of his voice telling us about difficult moments in his life and the nearly-acoustic, piano- and guitar-driven arrangements.

Dopamine Addict” is a brutally honest confession of his phone-addiction habits; “Shadow of Mine” is a beautiful ballad backed up by equally-as-beautiful vocals; “Hipocrite” is yet another unnecessarily honest track we didn’t know we needed; nuance is humanized in the homonymous song, talked about as if it was a lover; “Devil Doesn’t Bargain,” just like “Shadow of Mine,” is another super sweet ballad.

I honestly couldn’t describe these sensations any better than how Alec Benjamin achieved to do: sensations you might think are too stupid to write a song about, like being addicted to your phone. We might be intimidated by the gravity of the issues: there are artists out there fighting for human rights with their music and you wrote a song about leaving nuance out? Yes, because these are topics relevant to our generation, equally as important as heavily political music, and certainly more enjoyable.

This is probably the most relatable album you will listen to this year. Please check it out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cover image credits: Albert Mullor / HIGHXTAR.

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