Album of the Week // 21-25 June

Loraine James - Reflection [Hyperdub]

Loraine James comes with her second album for Hyperdub, made in the summer of 2020. Reflection is a turbulent expression of inner-space, laid out in unflinching honesty, also offering gentle empathy and bitter-sweet hope.

2020 was tough for Loraine; unable to tour and build on the success of For You And I, she was prolific in the studio, self-releasing, plus releasing the acclaimed stepping-stone Nothing EP for Hyperdub, which realised a unique pop sensibility that she develops more here. Her 2020 listening habits - drill and R&B - seep through into ‘Reflection’ too. In contrast to the brash splashes of For You And I and the grimy anger of Nothing, Reflection is paired down and confident, taking the listener through how the year felt for a young black queer woman and her acolytes, in a world that suddenly stopped moving.

The arc of the album is peppered with Loraine's diaristic confessions which switch the narrative and mood. ‘Simple Stuff’ is about out of reach equal rights, ‘Self Doubt’ flexes her insecurity about playing on stage and ‘Reflection’ is dejected and lonely. In contrast ‘Change’ slowly faces up to the crisis. Her selection of guests support, amplify, reflect and soothe, whilst instrumental passages express unspoken moods

Loraine James by Suleika Müller

Reflection starts positively with the gentle pop-trap of ‘Built To Last’ featuring Xzavier Stone, into the bumpy instrumental of ‘Let's Go’. The album switches tone with ‘Simple Stuff’, followed by regular collaborator Le3 bLACK amplifying Loraine's vulnerability on the downcast drill of ‘Black Ting’. 'Insecure Behaviour and Fuckery’ is a techno glide which pairs Nova's confrontational plea for respect, delivered in mono tone autotune, against deep Drexciyan chords.

Following the aforementioned ‘Self Doubt’, the assured Beach-Boys-in-space weightlessness of ‘On the Lake Outside’ with Baths on vocals, soothes the numb feelings. The flat line of ‘Change’ follows, and Eden Samara explores the shadow world of anxious dreams on the airy R&B of ‘Running LikeThat’. The end track ‘We're Building Something New’ with Manchester rapper Iceboy Violet brings the album together, admitting things are bad, but confidently suggesting a new world will be theirs.

A new world being shaped is the final impression of the album. Reflection is a brave step forward fora unique and creative 21st century musician.

Worldwide FM Chat