As a lover, consumer, and critic of music, it brings me much joy to analyze musical compositions. It’s been some time since I’ve last done an album review, and I felt it was just fitting to get back into the groove with the latest from the infamous Azealia Banks.
Miss Banks released her debut LP Broke With Expensive Taste (#BWET) sans promo on Thursday, November 6th via iTunes. As a fan of Azealia’s work, I’m pretty certain I jumped for joy in my head when I started to stream snippets in iTunes, because really, it was something I was waiting for.
With her EP 1991 and mixtape Fantasea, she teased us sonically with an infectious ’90s house groove, reminiscent of Crystal Waters and C&C Music Factory, with a grittier edge. We hear this sound on “212” from 1991 and “Luxury” from Fantasea , which are included on the effort for good measure, but truly, these tracks were a tease of what the collective album effort would be. On the album’s sixteen tracks, Azealia melds the sounds of now, the feeling of NYC nightlife over the decades, interspersed with British elements of grime and two-step.
I listened to the album a few times over prior to deciding to review, and the one word I would use to describe it collectively is “infectious”. From start to finish, Azealia’s wordplay and vocal variety, switching between rapping and singing, keeps you guessing, and at times, surprises you. Paired with stellar production, the tracks on #BWET keep your attention, keep you listening, and make you dance. The experience in listening to it was quite similar to when I first purchased Disclosure’s debut album Settle when it was released in June 2013. The infectious groove made me play songs on repeat without it getting old, or me getting tired of it. I would say Azealia’s album is the New York City match to Settle, and will continue to gain acclaim among both critics and fans because it’s a solid project of feel-good music.
Standout tracks include the sexy nighttime groove “JFK”, assisted by Brooklyn’s own Theophilus London, smash “Chasing Time” (which Azealia really flexes her vocal chops on the hook), the jammy jam “Miss Amor” that is sure to make that body MOVE, and the grime-tinged “Desperado”. #BWET feels like New York City, that took a quick trip to London to get inspired, and came back home to create something quite special.
Azealia is a talent indeed, and in listening to Broke With Expensive Taste, she proves that the album was worth the wait. If you have not yet streamed or purchased, you can preview tracks in the video below. You will surely be singing and dancing along!
*Photo credit: Rankin