Album Review

Rachel Chinouiriri - What A Devastating Turn Of Events

One of indie pop’s most interesting, vital voices.

Rachel Chinouiriri - What A Devastating Turn Of Events

Rachel Chinouriri has always been far from a predictable artist (her 2019 EP ‘Mama’s Boy’ offered up a slice of soulful pop, while 2021 project ‘Four° In Winter’ leaned more into electronic influences), but it’s on this, her long-awaited debut full-length, that she fully steps into her considerable potential as one of indie pop’s most interesting, vital voices. Very much an album of two halves, ‘What A Devastating Turn Of Events’ utterly rejects the notion that chart-friendly music need be thematically or emotionally beige. On its A-side, Rachel explores concepts of homesickness and heartsickness with candour, sass, and wry self-awareness; though this first section largely deals in affairs of the heart, she manages to bring new dimension to the well-worn ‘boy mistreats girl’ lyrical trope by swapping between nostalgia-tinged intimacy (‘All I Ever Asked’) and affirming, anthemic choruses (‘Never Need Me’).

As we pass the record’s halfway point, however, there’s a significant tonal shift: gone are the meta, tongue-in-cheek additions of matey voice notes (‘It Is What It Is’) and humorous radio links (‘Dumb Bitch Juice’), and in their place is the title track – an instrumentally understated yet thematically hard-hitting hairpin turn left, detailing the eponymous narrative that led to a relative of Rachel’s taking her own life. It’s a sucker-punch statement that aims to emulate the speed with which circumstances can change, and indeed begins a run of poignantly beautiful tracks that variously touch on disordered eating and body image (‘I Hate Myself’); familial tragedy (‘Robbed’); and generational trauma (‘My Blood’).

What’s remarkable about ‘What A Devastating Turn Of Events’, though, is that the gravitas of this weightier material isn’t cheapened by the sudden contrast, just as the LP’s initial buoyancy somehow doesn’t become retrospectively flippant. Instead, the album honours that life’s lightness isn’t contradicted by the dark moments, but rather co-exists alongside them; a reminder that everything – and everyone – contains multitudes.

Tags: Rachel Chinouriri, Reviews, Album Reviews

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