While Colombian – American singer Kali Uchis has been making hits ever since her debut mixtape Drunken Babble dropped six years ago, it’s no doubt that many of her fans have come from her various collaborations with Tyler, the Creator dating back to Cherry Bomb in 2015 all the way up to his most recent project in 2017, SCFB.
Needless to say Uchis has massively changed the game since her first jittery, hip-hop orientated beats from Good To You and the dreary vocals on Chimichanga came onto the scene, and her progression from self-producing beats on Garageband to working with Brockhampton’s own Romil Hemnani, Tame Impala’s Keven Parker, Tyler Okonma (naturally) and even Blur/ Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn is massive, the unique and varied talents really show in her first full-length project.
From the tropical, soul-infused beats on Body Language to the sickly smooth rap beats on Just a Stranger, (featuring chorus vocals from Steve Lacy), tracks like this with the subtle undertones of funk basslines and echoing backing vocals add some real substance to an almost throwaway track like this, and while the artist’s vocals aren’t particularly gleaming on this song it still manages to spice up the repetitive instrumental.
Uchis’ blend of hypnotic R&B and flawless vocals lend themselves to a vivid artistic vision that truly comes together on tracks like the slow-burning romantic ballad Flight 22, or the early 2000’s club inspired Dead To Me, her ability to switch up vocal styles, musical genres, themes and even language in the space of a track is hard evidence that Kali Uchis has truly mastered her craft.
Isolation also draws influence from some iconic Latin pop songs with her track Nuestro Planeta, along with injecting some 50’s and 60’s aesthetics into the mix with After The Storm, along with a fantastic feature from Bootsy Collins that livens up the song to a whole new level. The heartbroken lament on Feel Like a Fool marks the progressive end to an easy contender of album of the year right before we’re hit with Killer, a dreary, beat-driven pop song with lethargic vocals drenched in a downhearted atmosphere, here we see Uchis at her most similar to her tracks from 2012, with a strong sense of a new found style and rhythm.
Not much can be said about this album other than the fact that it’s undoubtedly one of the hottest releases of 2018, it’s overarching themes of heartbreak and self-doubt conflicted with themes of self-love also makes Isolation an important artistic release. If you’re searching for the cleanest instrumentals in pop, with an innovative blend of vocal styles and beats, Kali Uchis’ debut album will definitely be your thing.
By Sam Harris
Featured image courtesy of Kali Uchis Twitter.