The debut album from British indie pop singer Nilüfer Yanya titled “Miss Universe,” has garnered recent critical acclaim. With the breakout single “In your head” and several EPs, Yanya generated considerable buildup to her first full -length record.
What came as a surprise was the quality and maturity of the project especially for a first album. Creating an album that sounds unique enough to stand out from her indie counterparts but can still captivate a large audience is no small feat. This is what Yanya has done on “Miss Universe.”
The mixture of distorted guitars as well as her voice, which sounds both feathery and husky, gives the album a distinctiveness that is rare among young indie artists. Another contributing factor to the uniqueness of the album is the skits that parse out the album. Yanya voices an imaginary wellness hotline where things like paradise and longer life are just a click away. The breaks do not serve the larger narrative purpose, but they do not distract from it either. If anything, they act as small intermissions to an otherwise dense and irresistible album.
On one of the most notable tracks, Yanya is charmingly euphoric while still maintaining the sense of longing that exists throughout. Sonically, the album transitions in and out of indie, pop, R&B and rock while still remaining cohesive.
Other tracks like “In your head” and “Tears” explore forbidden emotions and the feelings of sorrow and anxiety. The beauty of the textured instrumentals and Yanya’s voice complement the sentiments made in the themes very well. The songs are both easy on the ears but interesting and inventive enough to keep the listener engaged from front to back.
The way Yanya explores emotions is paramount to other artists in the genre and gives the album incredible depth. The instruments themselves not only serve the songs musically but narratively as well. The harsh guitars add to the uneasiness and occasionally manic feelings that are explored in the songs. The light and nimble drums on songs like “Heart rises” and “Tears” aid in the themes of holding on as well as the feelings of uncertainty.
Yanya also uses words and phrases both economically and intelligently. The repeated lines both serve the sound of the songs and describe the emotions Yanya is singing about. Each layer seems calculated yet still allows the album to feel raw and expressive.
One of the album’s best features is how it manages to fully encapsulate the ideas of the project without taking from the feelings evoked by the instrumentals.
Overall, Yanya is an incredible singer and songwriter and manages to blend several genres to serve the overall narrative of the album.