Nilüfer Yanya’s debut starts out ominously. “Thank you for entering your details, and welcome to WWAY HEALTH, our 24/7 care programme,” the Londoner states in a creepily polite monotone voice, sounding like an overly familiar bad guy in a dystopian film. Across ‘Miss Universe’, the voice returns in a host of interludes. Representing the anxiety and paranoia of all-seeing technology, it’s a foreboding thread that runs through the record. Between these interludes, thirteen songs both lean into these feelings and try and break away from them.
Across a handful of EPs and promising singles, Nilüfer has shown herself a singer-songwriter firmly out of leftfield, mixing jazz and soul with pop sensibilities, happy to stray from the well-trodden path but always finding a way to keep an earworm stuck inside your head, be it a nonchalantly-sung chorus or an unusually delivered fleck of jazzed-up guitar.
All this promise is taken to the extreme on ‘Miss Universe’, a record that features both her most direct and most evasive music to date. Sitting in the former camp is opening track ‘In Your Head’, a grunge-nodding hammer-blow of a radio single, in which Nilüfer sings of paranoia, but shows no intention of succumbing to it. ‘Angels’ is similarly instant, folding out into a luscious, grand outro. ‘Tears’ furthers her ability to pen a hook, but swaps crunchy guitars for warped synths and a bright, skipping chorus.
Elsewhere, snappy numbers (‘Paradise’) lead into songs circling around reverb-drenched layers of vocals (‘Baby Blu’) and unusual skips through guitar pop and soul (‘Heat Rises’). It all sounds a little inconceivable on paper, but is tied together and brought to life by a singer-songwriter who evades pigeonholing - on purpose or accidentally, it doesn’t really matter - and provides a debut that’s all her own.
More like this
It’ll be her first 2019 headline shows since 2019.
The biggest and best new tracks this week.
Check out new track ‘Stabilise’ now.
The track featured on her recent EP ‘Feeling Lucky?’.