As genres become a tool just as much tone these days, Kadhja Bonet harnesses the power of a wealth of knowledge. On her latest LP, Bonet takes so many different unique sounds and builds a world within her record that’s worth exploring. With her mix of memorable melodies, retro tones and timeless well…everything, Bonet makes a classic that would fit across the last 60 or so years of music.
With an epic luster the track opens on massive chords and harmonies on “Procession” while regal drums go off in the background. As the track takes on a weird swing and even funkier instrumentation, the album’s unusual direction starts to take shape. Bonet’s majestic pop starts to pull into hip hop on the suave beats and vocals of “Childqueen” as delicious R&B grooves and guitar fly throughout the track. Around all her score-like arrangements, it’s the amazing way Bonet spins her vocals and harmonies that makes the song truly magical.
The psychedelic energy of the album starts to come through louder on “Another Time Lover” as Bonet’s music centers around pop rather than purely thematic overtones. Like Superorganism, there’s something truly cool to hearing sound used so creatively in these songs that manages to be just as impressive as the memorable riffs and tones laced throughout the album. There’s a much slower and methodical movement to “Delphine” that finds Bonet spacing out her production to let each piece shine a little brighter. While it really takes its time, this track closes on an emotionally triumphant note that will blow you away.
A vintage air surrounds the heavy riffing of “Thoughts Around Tea” and lets each bell ring feel like something out of a 70s record. This said the clever vocals burst out in powerful harmonies or a sound that you’d rarely hear on those older recordings. With melodies and harmony that bounce together like a Christmas song, “Joy” brings a classical romance energy that feels weirdly dynamic in modern times. The star however is the cutting string hooks that come in like the most tense melody you’ve ever heard in your life.
After a particularly abrasive opening, “Wings” digs deep into a bass-happy groove that really makes you change your thinking on traditional arrangements. Right as it hits its breaking point, the strings go frantic and let the bass make a solo jump of its own. Bonet lets loose into a freestyle funk on “Mother Maybe” and mixes so many melodies that you’ll be addicted instantly. Whether it’s the creamy harmonies, changes or the little flickering of the keyboards, this track really goes all out.
As things slow down on “Second Wind” Bonet’s more traditional pop sound doesn’t betray her, by the grace of her subtle melodic details. By letting the grooves guide the song with her, Bonet creates so much room to mess around that you’ll often forget she’s crafting new hooks as she goes. While it carries all the thematic call-backs and heavy ideas of an exit-lude there’s such a grandeur and pop fun to “Nostalgia” that you won’t see it that way. Given that it flows like a fun improvisational vocal bounce, it closes the record right as it seems like Bonet is about to lose it.
Words by Owen Maxwell