2019, Music

Miss Universe (2019) by Nilüfer Yanya

The UK has a long history of producing working class-sounding women singers with punk attitude who stand out from the heard of men making similar music on both sides of the ocean. From just listening to this one record, it does feel like Yanya has joined the ranks of that tradition, even if her music doesn’t always conventionally fit in with that tradition.

Yanya’s voice doesn’t really remind me too much of her fore-bearers as much as her accent sometimes does. She’s a little more polished than some of the singers that came before her. (At least that I am familiar with/thinking of.) And I think that’s in part because not being to sing at all is no longer cool unless you’re a rapper first, whereas it was totally okay in the late ’70s in the UK in rock music, it was so okay that it was actually kind of a plus.

The music is far more stylistically diverse than I associate with the punk/post-punk that I most associate “British woman with working-class accent” with. I think that’s the nature of the era we’re in, where singer-songwriters just pick and choose from different styles. Sometimes I find it schizophrenic but, in Yanya’s case, I really don’t even though maybe I should. That might come from her voice and personality – this sounds like the work of one woman even across these genres.

I do think the songs aren’t the stronger and when I pay attention to the lyrics they are clearly the work of a young person. This is not someone, to my ears, who has an absolutely precocious grasp of songwriting. I’m not saying they’re bad – they’re not bad. They are just not the strength of the record.

I do think this is a strong debut. And if you classify it as “indie pop” or whatever it stands out for its stylistic diversity but also because Yanya doesn’t sound like your classic woman indie pop/indie rock singer but rather an older breed of punk/post punk singer.


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