Her mu­sic may be mel­lower, but the pop-rap vet­eran’s fury is undimmed.

Q (UK) - - Contents - STEVE YATES

The pop-rap star’s cre­ative re­birth con­tin­ues apace with an­other bel­ter.

The soft­ness is in the sound, not the stance, which is bristling and steely.


Neneh Cherry’s cre­ative re­birth has been largely de­fined by the sound of an artist get­ting an­grier as she gets older. The ex­tra­or­di­nary Blank Project, from 2014, her first solo al­bum in al­most 20 years, it­self fol­low­ing hot on the heels of a skronk-jazz col­lab­o­ra­tion with The Thing, tapped into her post-punk roots for an of­ten fu­ri­ous col­lec­tion that made you fear for any­one within range of her ire. Its fol­low-up Bro­ken Pol­i­tics is calmer and more re­flec­tive, but no hap­pier with the world it sur­veys. “Got my knick­ers in a twist/ Broke some glass, bro­ken pol­i­tics,” she sings on Syn­chro­nised De­vo­tion, per­haps the mel­low­est mo­ment of an al­bum that doesn’t want for mel­low mo­ments. But the soft­ness is in the sound, not the stance, which, like its cover art – Cherry stood pur­pose­fully in the street, in a full-length dress that might’ve been fash­ioned out of a bed­sheet – is bristling and steely. Kong, which fea­tures 3D and echoes the smoky, claus­tro­pho­bia of Mas­sive At­tack’s Pro­tec­tion, was in­spired by the es­ca­lat­ing

mal­treat­ment of refugees. As she sings on the open­ing Fallen Leaves, “Just be­cause I’m down/ Don’t step all over me.” With Kieran “Four Tet” Heb­den back on pro­duc­tion, the mu­sic is stripped-back but al­ways eclec­tic, skip­ping from the tam­bourine of Deep Vein Throm­bo­sis to the mar­tial drums of Faster Than The Truth. Its most ur­gent track, the fab­u­lous Nat­u­ral Skin Deep, is an ex­plo­sion of steel drums, airhorn and an as­cend­ing squig­gly synth line that cap­tures the thrills of its flam­boy­antly sex­ual lyric. The fury is con­trolled, the re­birth keeps cre­at­ing. ★★★★ Lis­ten To: Nat­u­ral Skin Deep | Kong | Faster Than The Truth

You’ve got to hand it to her: Neneh Cherry keeps her cre­ative re­birth on track.

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