Country : United States Label : Dais Genres and styles : New Wave / Synth-Pop Year : 2020

Riki

· by Geneviève Gendreau

Prior to this debut album, Niff Nawor, aka Riki, worked within the Californian anarcho-punk and goth-rock scenes. She abandoned these more abrasive styles to embrace a vintage, catchy and shadowy synthpop.

The album’s cover breathes the ’80s, and the first seconds of listening take us back there with relentless electronic drums and energetic synths.

Let’s note that she teamed up with a distinguished sidekick, musician, sound designer and director Matia Simovich (INHALT), known for her use of analog instruments. The album was recorded and mixed at the Infinite Power Studios operated by Simovich with Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly, Fear Factory) and none other than John Fryer. 

On “Strohmann”, the opening track, Riki’s crystalline voice rises to the tinkling of a carillon, like the angelic solo of some choral song, but a powerful crescendo brings us back to the heart of the action. Singing in German, she lulls us with her smooth voice, set to deliciously jerky rhythms.

Her candour then gives way to the sweet irony of the carnal “Napoleon”, the single released last November. Opening with a snorting horse, the video recalled the kitschy romanticism of the ’80s, through a dark lens.

The album is a bit out of breath by “Earth Song”, with its conventional electro-pop, as well as on “Spirit of Love”, with its very Depeche Mode sound, right down to the vocal inflections. However, it finds its second wind with the last two tracks, outright winners exploring dark and musically complex territories. “Come Inside” expresses desire no longer in a frenzy, but in interiority and darkness. “Monumental”, last but not least, tends to reconcile these two aspects, perhaps revealing the true sound of Riki. A first album with beautiful qualities, encouraging vigilance for subsequent releases.

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