Los Angeles, CA
With the arrival of third album You And I Will Never Die in March, KANGA has mastered that most delicate of artistic balances: Expanding one’s horizons dynamically, but without compromising the initial promise and vision that established them.
Pulsating with the dark sensuality of her eponymous debut while exploring the light and space found in remarkable sophomore outing Eternal Daughter, this latest offering now sees her sophisticated alt-pop sound fully realized. An exploration of love, loss and loneliness, it feels particularly timely yet at the same time futuristic. It’s the dark night of the soul, with a glimpse into the sometimes blinding light of morning after.
From the brooding infectiousness of ‘Home’ to the delicate, graceful defiance of ‘Godless’, a balance is struck between the obvious and subtle, the melancholic and euphoric. There is a lack of closure, but not of hope, as an artistic maturity is achieved with the promise of early efforts fulfilled, while the tantalizing prospect of further exploration remains.
This is the ideal third album, in that sense: If the initial LP is often the brandishing of one’s influences and a statement of intent, the second is then usually a step away in order to establish true artistic independence, leaving the nest as it were. Here we have a truly adult iteration – the bleak nihilism of her self-titled effort has been replaced by a measured restraint, but the bright energy of the follow up now lies tempered by the weight of regret.
It’s refreshing, in a world where too many mistake minimalism for laziness and ego for self-esteem, to see such sense of self this early in a career. There is the notion of a young and agile mind paired with an old soul – KANGA demonstrates strength both in the power of her conception and near-flawless production, and also in her vulnerability, expressed tastefully and with a maturity all too rare in many of her contemporaries.
The future then is a multi-faceted diamond, polished but imperfect, reflecting brilliance while casting shadows as duality of self and sound are pushed to their potential. It’s thrilling to see an artist take their once obvious influences and move their spirit in a new direction like this, in a tradition worthy of her industrial heroes who expanded into fascinating new realms. Futurism in itself is so frequently associated with coldness and sterility, and as proven here, it need not always be so.
This is music not just for those on the dancefloors of the darkest basements, but those quietly contemplating their existence in the hidden corners of those rooms, alone but now possessed of the knowledge that only such separation brings. KANGA explores these spaces within and between us, delicately juxtaposing without contradiction.
Suggested tracks for the uninitiated: ‘Honey’, ‘Going Red’ and ‘Vital Signs’ (KANGA, 2016);
‘Burn’, ‘Run’ and ‘Eternal Daughter’ (Eternal Daughter, 2019); ‘Home’, ‘Godless’, ‘Brother’ and ‘Untie’ (You And I Will Never Die, 2021).
Support KANGA at kanga.bandcamp.com
By Victor Nero