Scary Love Monster – EP
Belts & Whistles
After four albums Leila Adu (finally!) releases this brand new EP (I say finally, because these works, these six songs, have been waiting…on the shelf for a while). Leila makes music as artworks – makes art out of (and with) music: they can be pop songs still/too (we open with the title track, one of her most accessible numbers to my mind) but inside the song is a sculpture of sound; she works as a sculptor, picking away at the music, saying so much within the negative spaces, creating – overall – something so joyous, something that revels in its own existence, the joy of creating, of making, of singing, playing…and Scary Love Monster’s songs bounce from big Kate Bush-like pop moments to the jazzy glide (Nefertiti’s Waking Dream) that has informed so much of her work. The great colour in her sound is what she’s able to do with her voice, from dizzying drone-like mantras to sweet pop melodies.
A Leila Adu album is always two tours of the world – the world of song in her head and the world of music that enables her to reach in and pluck out those magic moments. The gamelan training behind The Bluest Eye, her own version of field hollers and finger-clicking folk fairy tales for Bluedbirds and Monsters (the video debuted here, on this site). The 3am drunk-disco waltz of Oriental Finger Trap, she’s the sort of torch singer where the song is likely to be set (if not recorded) in a tunnel (Nothing’s Going Wrong).
There’s such huge scope here – across just six brief tracks. And though I think of Bjork and PJ Harvey and Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell as the sort of names I’d like to associate Leila with, all of them wilful and playful by turn, so sure of the sounds in their head and the ways to translate them it’s impossible to say that Leila Adu sounds like any of them; just as they all stand alone. But slowly, surely, she’s taking steps to build a catalogue that could rival any of them for experimentation, energy, hope, heart and beauty.
Scary Love Monster is deceptively bold, conceptually rich and though it stands as a whole, when picked apart there’s not a dud moment, there are instead six laboured-over song-sculptures. Six pop-songs-as-artworks. Six magic moments.