A niece directed me to Nilufer Yanyer a couple of years ago and I listened to one track, didn't care for it and stopped listening. But I've been listening to her latest, PAINLESS, for the last few days now and care for it very much. It's already one of my favourite albums of 2022 and seems likely to remain so, regardless of what the next nine months bring.
Yanyer is a Chelsea born singer songwriter with a fascinating family heritage. Her mother is part Irish part Barbadian, her father Turkish. Both parents are visual artists. That's an interesting place to start from and Yanyer is certainly interesting. Listening through to PAINLESS doesn't remind me of anything much apart from itself really and that's highly, highly unusual these days.
My niece says she prefers her early EPS and that's the nature of many musical loves, particularly for those of us who listen to a lot of music but I'm going to focus on this before I go back to her previous releases if I do. Writing a blog like this on a daily basis doesn't always allow me to do this as much as I'd like to. Anyhow, this is more than enough for me for now.
The French magazine Les Inkoruptibles has compared her music to King Krule, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Parquet Courts and The Breeders. None of these touchstones mean anything to me. At least not while listening to PAINLESS. Perhaps they did in reference to her earlier records.
But here she seems to be operating in a space between independent guitar and dance music. That's a cool place to be. Certainly cooler than immediately reminding you of the bands above, great as they are. The one alternative band her music does remind me of generally is New Order, another band who moved away from Rock sounds into dance spaces. Radiohead too occasionally. They did a not disimlar thing after OK Computer,
Yanyer's singing and lyrics obviously move the music of PAINLESS into a different space still. They're clearly not similar in any way to anything New Order or Radiohead ever did. What the concerns of those lyrics might be is not always clear as her vocals are slightly removed and remote in the mix. You get the sense that the focus is rather pained but this is never a detached or overwrought record. Rather it's a warm and engaged one.
So I'm not writing here as anything of an authority on Nilufer Yanyer. Far from it. I haven't done anything but the most cursory research into her backstory or her back catalogue. But I am a convert to the power of her music and in that respect I'm on the same page as Pitchfork unusually, who've given PAINLESS a glowing review. Hipness at last. I'm in awe of its clockwork, sinuos intensity. It's a brilliant, brave and fascinating record. Also a very 2022 one that captures the year's mysterious qualities.