The beats that Shelita is dishing out in her self-titled debut aren’t just seductive; they’re straight-up addictive for those of us who treasure of a solid pop jam (and this LP comes outfitted with nine of them). From the opening bars of the stellar “Religion!” to the magnetizing slow-burn of “Live!,” there are no dull moments in SHELITA; only shots of an intoxicating, ethereal substance that is as comprised by modern pop melodicism as it is profoundly poetic R&B of the most experimental variety. This is indie pop for a generation evolved, and it’s by far one of the most well-rounded albums I’ve heard in all of 2019.
“Together!” kicks off in a haze of fuzz before quickly transforming into a hauntingly minimalist pop ballad. Unlike the swift swing of “Libations!,” “Together!” values tension above harmony when it comes time for maxing out the chill-factor, and along with the exotic “Tango!,” offers us one of the most patient performances of any Shelita will give in this tracklist. We move from one song to the next seamlessly, but she never recycles a rhythm or even flirts with the notion of taking the easy road with predictable pop hooks or watered-down lyrical narratives – she’s too sophisticated a singer for that.
SHELITA MUSIC: shelita.lnk.to/SHELITA
Swaying in the darkness, the vocal in “Power!” is marred in a melancholy that transcends everything going against it to find a sense of catharsis as beautiful as the sunrise. This song, as well as the closing number “Special!” and the punctual “Penetrate!,” had a big effect on me the first time that I listened to them, and no matter how many times I spin their brilliant beats, they gain a layer of intensity that makes it all the more impossible to turn away from their colorful textures. This record might overwhelm pop novices, but as far as the rest of us go, it’s a watershed.
Even when she’s working a muted club groove in songs like “Save!,” Shelita’s vocal is always the star of the show in this incomparable album. She’s got a talent with the microphone that doesn’t come around every day in this business, and no matter what flavor of pop magic happens to be your favorite, there’s no beating the bolt of lightning that SHELITA is, even after repeat listens. It’s a breakthrough moment for its composer, and moreover, for a genre that has been waiting for a goddess like her for a long time now.