Jessie Reyez - Before Love Came to Kill Us Music Album Reviews

The powerhouse singer’s voice is chameleonic and present in every guise. Her debut is most satisfying not because she whizzes across multiple genres, but because of the skill she displays at each.

The 2010s R&B renaissance gave rise to a lot of little renaissances, one of which is the R&B singer-songwriter. Their arrangements are acoustic and expensively dusty, like a piano whose warped keys are recorded from across an attic. Often the songs are R&B in name only; they sound like—and are intended as—alt-rock or folk. The lyrics might be florid, might be plainspoken, but will always be dead blunt. The first line will catch and bleed like a songwriting garrote, something like, “I should have fucked your friends.”

Jessie Reyez’s Before Love Came to Kill Us begins with this hook. From there, she claws in deeper, addressing her ex in a deceptively sweet croon: “I’m the monster that you made, yeah, you made me/Now I’m just like you, so don’t complain.” She threatens to Goodfella them. On the axis from 0 to Kelis’ “Caught Out There,” Reyez is at the far furious end. And while Before Love Came to Kill Us is technically her debut, it follows several EPs of similarly unsparing music like “Gatekeeper,” a vicious, Clockwork Orange-referencing exposé of sexual harassment by a former producer (whom she later named as Detail). It’s the kind of thing young women are encouraged to quietly write out of their career narrative or else, and a genuine risk.

Before Love Came to Kill Us showcases more of that high-stakes swagger. Reyez’s songwriting is extremely online—on one track she mentally Twitter-mutes a scrub—and extremely death-driven, whether she portrays herself as the death or the killer. Her voice is chameleonic and present in every guise: quirky lilt; delicate head voice; and, often and best, a blown-out, purposefully ragged belt that sounds like it’s trying to claw its way out of the recording. What’s most satisfying about Before Love Came to Kill Us isn’t that Reyez whizzes across multiple genres—these days, who doesn’t?—but the skill she displays at each. No matter the arrangement, she powers across it at full force.

“Intruders,” with shades of Kali Uchis’ “Tyrant,” is as romantic as it is subtly unsettling: “a love song, a war song,” and a metaphor of love as colonialism, of scorching other people’s earth. Equally alluring and disturbing is the woozy 6LACK duet “Imported.” Reyez’s and 6LACK’s vocals slip from background to foreground on the chorus; Reyez’s verses dissolve mid-flirt into nothing. Both artists, though commanding presences, surrender to the anonymity of the affair, singing some variation on “my name is fuck it, ’cause my name is not important.” The album takes its title from “Kill Us,” a power ballad built atop guitar heroics, like something Miguel would do. Best of all is the glitchy, carefree party-starter “Dope,” full-to-bursting with slyly lewd vocals and whoops.

Like all “debut” albums stitched together from various EPs—themselves stitched together from standalone singles and streaming-only tracks—the album has a cursory feel. Much of its best material has been around for years, like the radioactively angry “Kiddo” offcut “Deaf” and the breakout single “Figures,” or a newly remixed version of “Imported”. Sometimes it’s the other way around: Early versions of “Ankles” sent to streaming suggested the track was meant to feature Rico Nasty and Melii, which is either a metadata screwup or the reason the solo version on Before Love Came to Kill Us sounds a little unfinished and thin.

Like many recent pop records, the album is overlong, and the extraneous material tends to be the kind of filler that Reyez is well above. “Love in the Dark” and “I Do” are fusty ballads, and while Reyez sings the hell out of them, she’s also mixed way to the front, as if her producers don’t trust her performance alone to elevate the song. Likewise, “Coffin” is the requisite doo-wop track many an R&B singer has done in the past few years. Reyez revels in its melodrama anyway, drawing up blueprints for coffins built for two—but then 2020 Eminem arrives, an entirely different kind of grim. (Gather ’round the coffin, kids, and let me tell you of a time when the average Eminem verse was at least as funny as 6LACK saying “Six-Lack.”) But all these flaws have less to do with Reyez than the industry she’s in. Throughout, she proves adept at cutting through its BS and noise—by being louder.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Jessie Reyez - Before Love Came to Kill Us Music Album Reviews Jessie Reyez - Before Love Came to Kill Us Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on April 08, 2020 Rating: 5


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