Red Moon in Venus
Caroline Polachek isn’t the only one suffering at the hands of desire. Kali Uchis’ third record, Red Moon In Venus, is a transporting and endlessly inviting work combining elements of R&B, neo-soul and pop to create a gorgeous and warming effect.
An album this relaxing in the hands of someone else might not work, but Red Moon never overstays its welcome — by the end of its fifteen tracks, it’s tempting to start the whole thing over, if nothing but to continue listening to Uchis’ voice. Other R&B efforts (like Kelela’s also excellent Raven) draw out lengths of time, but at a quick 43 minutes, this record doesn’t waste its time getting to the point. Uchis’ excellent pacing makes it a treat to listen to, placing its languid stretches amongst its more upbeat places. Impressively, there’s rarely a dull moment.
Uchis’ desires are never shrouded in mystery, but rather direct proclamations that are impossible to misinterpret. “I want you constantly, eternally, unconditionally,” she sings in “Como Te Quiero Yo,” a song filled with moaning; she admits “I just wanna get high with my lover” on the glossy soundscape of the penultimate track. Even when she’s not drenched in love, her writing hits you like a bullet: “Blue” and “Deserve Me” see Uchis at the end of a relationship, first anticipating the anxiety and then feeling the relief. The latter (a tad clunky due to an assist from rapper Summer Walker) has Uchis saying plainly on the outro: “I need you to know that you’re so manipulative.”
Sex drips from the record without it getting too sweaty — she delivers Megan Thee Stallion-esque lines like “The mirror’s on my ceiling / So I can watch you top me” with characteristic sweetness on the funky ballad with Omar Apollo. “Fantasy”, an intoxicating track with Don Toliver, sees her stress her own self-worth and expectations with a partner. “Love all on me / Spend it on me / Babe, if you don’t worship me it just don’t work for me… I just want the fantasy.” And in a more wholesome take, elsewhere on the record, she repeats “Love between two human beings can be so wonderful.”
Though Uchis has said that Red Moon is only the first of two albums she’ll be releasing this year, the second to-be-announced work will be entirely in Spanish. Red Moon is speckled with moments of the language, too, though, and on songs like “Hasta Cuando”, her switching between English and Spanish only amplifies her message to a jealous ex and his girlfriend later in the song: “Paint me as the villain if that makes you feel better… At the end of the day, she’d trade lives with me if God let her.” On a nicer note with the love song “Como Te Quiero Yo”, she repeats “Sin ti no puedo estar”, translating to “without you, I cannot be.”
Though she still comes back down to earth at opportune moments, Red Moon In Venus sees Kali Uchis up in the clouds, drenched in the tranquility new love can afford. If this is her fantasy, let’s hope she keeps dreaming.
Order Red Moon In Venus by Kali Uchis HERE
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