Azealia Banks – 1991 album review

Barely old enough to order a drink, Azealia Banks serves up a heaping dose of lyrical debauchery on her newest EP, 1991, which was released digitally last week (physical release set for June 12th).  Banks’ sexually charged, in-your-face vocals pair nicely with the stripped down, early 90’s house music vibe heard throughout the album.  As we reach the midpoint of 2012, the “young terror from the nyc” is poised to the newest alternative IT girl, ready to be played out by mainstream radio and hipsters alike.

The obvious standout of the album is “212” featuring Lazy Jay’s 2009 track “Float My Boat.”  While the track may have been leaked last year, it feels fresh as ever as Banks’ rapid-fire lyrics dance with playful horn blasts and tropical riddims.  Plus, Banks flexes her singing skills with a sultry hook that may be sweet enough to forgive her for vulgarity on the infamously repeated “I guess that cunt gettin eaten” line.  Also leaked last year, “Liquorice” takes you on a high-speed ride of 808-drums and retro trance synths courtesy of UK producer Lone.

The album’s title track (“1991”) and “Van Vogue” are stellar additions to round out the album.  The two tracks, produced by eclectic bass music producer, Machinedrum, continue the EP’s housey agenda to a percussive wonderland.  “1991” is a minimal, Burial-esque track featuring pulsating bell sounds and an evolving melody that sounds like it could have easily been produced in, well…1991.  “Van Vogue” has the same feel as “1991” tinged with subtle R&B influences and airy reverb as well as a cleverly placed sample of a barking dog midway through the hook.

At the end of 1991’s mere 16 minute run time, you’ll hear a multitude of foul-mouthed phrases that should never be spoken in public.  But even after Banks’ gritty lyrics, you’ll somehow be left with a strange feeling of playfulness and innocence in her voice.  She’ll leave you shocked, confused and begging for more.  1991 is a breakthrough album that already feels classic.

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