Throughout the course of 2019, enigmatic UK singer-songwriter/producer BABii has been creating a buzz for herself ahead of the release of debut album 'HiiDE'. The singles have suggested the kind of tender alternative/nu-pop that evokes the likes of Grimes, Fever Ray and even Bjork. BABii wears her heart on her sleeve to gut-wrenching effect, accompanied by spiritual vocals and otherworldly beats. 'HiiDE' is finally here and the full package is quite the experience.
'SYMMETRii' starts things off with fairy-esque harmonies married with pulsing bass that reflect the mysticism and magic of BABii's artistry. After a dangling passage of nimble noodling, this spectral, darting melody comes into play alongside rattling hi-hats and BABii's own dreamy vocals. Everything comes together to enchantingly set the mood of 'HiiDE' as a spellbinding but tentative journey. BABii herself is in 'symmetry', looking deep into herself on her introspective journey.
'CARNiiVORE' sets up a tundra-like atmosphere with these glacial vocal-cuts and ghostly keys that sting like a hailstorm. The throbbing bass feels like we're marching through these icy elements. On this track BABii talks falling in love with a carnivore before crashing to the ground. Her delicate, breathy voice goes hand-in-hand with the fractured nature of the song as she relentlessly, defiantly repeats the song's hook with a fighting spirit to pull us through.
'PHANTOM' presents a more brooding narrative, injected with a little sass and a victorious joviality from the fight of the previous track ('you will never be who I want you to be'). This is reinforced by increased instrumental pace, and the melody taking a more angular, jumpy direction.
Even in just these first few tracks, 'HiiDE' very much feels like a break-up record; BABii is putting her pain but she's on a path to overcome it.
'VOLCANO' finds itself in the middle ground of this fragility and defiance. 'I'm inbetween the seams it seems, I am undone', she sings, as well as 'if we never speak again, you'll be speaking in past tense, so realise now'. She's bitter and, by the sounds of it, done with whatever it is she's talking about. There's the same wandering pace, but with added muscle from the lyrics.
Instrumentally speaking, 'SKiiN' the most layered track on the record with everything from choral elements to transcendent choir samples, flute-like melodies to shimmering, supernatural fuzz. All these elements come together and move like an eloquent ballet piece full of tension and sorrow, but also grace and bravado.
On 'POiiSON', BABii laments how she doesn't 'wanna go slow motion.' This track lightly plods along with a lost-feeling mood and tranquil notes dripping ahead of an explosion of ascending, wistful textures and wavepad drums. It really feels like final charge of the record; BABii is just done.
If that's the climatic final showdown of 'HiiDE', then closing track 'SEiiZURE' feels like the balance-restored aftermath. Fans will be familiar with this track already and it's a powerful ending to the album with its acceptance of inner demons. BABii reflects: 'I dreamt of how disposable you made me feel when we were young', whilst the beats peacefully tread on the warmer side.
Overall, 'HiiDE' is as impressive and promising as debut albums get. Whilst there's not really much that reinvents the wheel in the alternative pop realm BABii's style sits comfortably in, this does feel a step above almost anything happening in that scene right now. Whilst this is just the beginning for BABii, you're not going to want to miss out on this stellar first chapter.
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