Album review: Little Simz – GREY Area

Little Simz - GREY Area album cover

25-year old Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, a.k.a. Little Simz, is now on her third album and displaying an incredible amount of maturity for her tender age.

GREY Area is a powerful and provocative work that lays bare both her fragility and her steely determination. There is musical sophistication here to match her well-conceived lyrical lashings, which combine to deliver a quite impressive opus.

Simbi sets her stall out on opener Offence, which features some classic funk breakbeat, buzzy bass and jazz-style flutes as she essentially warns us that she doesn’t care who she offends. If you’re bothered by what she’s got to say – that’s on you.

There are other powerful messages contained in this album. Wounds, with its bluesy guitar and impatient keyboard and drum line, hits out at women who get embroiled in and end up supporting and glorifying gun culture.

Venom, possibly top track on the album, uses ominous strings and oppressive keyboards to call out sexism in the music industry and highlights how forthright women can be cast aside for being too intimidating.

There are a fair few self-reflecting pieces on here. Therapy finds Little Simz recounting how counselling sessions hadn’t worked for her, but did find redemption in the power of perseverance and self-belief.

Sherbert Sunset, another track driven by a fantastic funky bass line, is a classic break-up track, but manages to combine the relief of having dodged a bullet with regret at it having ended and counting up the damage done from both the relationship and the split.

We get some traditional Japanese melodies via keyboard accompanied by some cracking heavy bass on 101 FM. The track offers us the well worn gem that the most important lessons in life don’t come at school, but does manage to reference Crash Bandicoot and Mortal Kombat in the process. Priceless.

It’s not a perfect album, some tracks don’t develop as much as you may want, but there are enough highlights to keep your attention throughout, and to go back for a repeat listen.

Release date: 01 March 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: Venom

For fans of:

  • Missy Elliott
  • Loyle Carner
  • Miss Red

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2018 Music Review – July

July was a relatively quiet month compared to some of the stonkers that have gone before it, but there were still some delights to be had.

We had girl-punk from Negative Scanner, whose album Nose Picker wins my special award for most unpleasant cover of the month. A mention also has to be made of Ross From Friends. The artists house- flavoured album is almost as impressive and the band name

here was also some great indie-rock to be had from the likes of Talons, Asylums and Bodega. My pick of the guitar-based albums came from Breathe Panel. Their lighter, dreamier take on the genre suited the mood of a balmy summer down to a tee.

I’ll happily admit that Jamaican Dancehall had largely passed me by as a musical area of interest, but K.O. by Miss Red is an album of truly epic proportions and one to really break out of a pigeon hole.

Top 10 July 2018

1: Miss Red – K.O.

Standout track: Come Slay

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2: Breathe Panel – Breathe Panel

Standout track: On My way

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3: Bodega – Endless Scroll

Standout track: Jack in Titanic

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4: Ross From Friends – FamilyPortrait

Standout track: Project Cybersyn

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5: Asylums – Alien Human Emotions

Standout track: When We Wake Up

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6: Talons – We All Know

Standout track: The Drowning

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7: Negative Scanner – Nose Picker

Standout track: History Lesson

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8: Tanukichan – Sundays

Standout track: Perfect

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9: Ben Chatwin – Staccato Signals

Standout track: Silver Pit

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10: Deaf Wish – Lithium Zion

Standout track: FFS

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