Sunday, 3 June 2012

Azealia Banks: '1991' EP Review

Summary: The club sound of 2012.
Listen To: '212'; 'Liquorice'
Avoid: 'Van Vogue'
Get It: Here

Azealia Banks has received heavy championing by the likes of NME since '212' became a massive viral hit. With the release of '1991', Banks shows exactly why NME have been championing her and why her songs have become club hits.

Although the EP only comes in at just over 15 minutes, it does stand out because it shows just what Banks is capable of. Every single track oozes swagger as she spits out her trademark filthy rap and calls out harmonious refrains over infectious beats and catchy club bass. This is apparant most in title track '1991' in which she shamelessly shows off her sound, style and swagger.

Obviously the standout of this EP is '212', with it's undeniably infectious rhythm and sweeping synths. It's no surprise why it has become such a hit or why it is the stand-out track of the EP.

However, the EP does have several downfalls. One downfall is that it is quite experimental which, in this instance, does nothing to benefit the music. One example is that '1991' features quirky sound-effects such as office background noise and telephones. This would be fine but as this EP is very club-focused, the sound-effects are very out-of-place and should have not made the final cut. We can only hope that, should this appear on her upcoming d├ębut album, the final version does not feature these sounds.
Another example comes in the form of Banks' willingness to play around with different effects. The end of '1991' shows her playing with breaking the song. This may help if the track was being used by a DJ in a club but that should really be left to the DJ to do as, on this version, it sits uncomfortably with the rest of the song. Another example is 'Van Vogue', in which the track seems to end and is followed by a brief silence. This silence is broken by Banks playing with a vocoder to excessively deepen her voice. This doesn't fit the track and interrupts the otherwise impressive club vibe of the EP.

The biggest downfall of the EP is also one of its strengths. This is the club vibe that it gives off. Although it is good that the EP has the feeling that you are in a club because of the style of the tracks and the sequencing of them, this also works against it as the novelty does wear off. Unless the tracks are very different, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between the tracks. '1991' and 'Van Vogue' are both similar enough that it is hard to differentiate between the two, and both give off the same club vibe. But the fact that this EP is meant for clubs allows us to forgive Banks to an extent.

Although this is just a brief taster of what Banks has in store for us this year, it is enough to make us realise that she is something very special indeed. She is somebody who has effortlessly produced a great club soundtrack despite the faults of the EP. And it provides a superb stepping stone for Azealia Banks to become a big part of modern youth culture.


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