Wednesday, September 6, 2023

CD Odyssey Disc 1673: K. Flay

I’m pretty bagged today, and wasn't sure I had a review in me. However, walking back from an appointment I found myself playing my Walkman on random instead of listening to this record. That’s usually a sign it is time to move on to something new on the Odyssey, and so, after a short but powerful nap, I’m going to give the people (that’s you) what you want. A music review.

If you do not want a music review, this is not a great website for you.

Disc 1673 is…Solutions

Artist: K. Flay

Year of Release: 2019

What’s up with the Cover?  “So I was out last night and had a couple too many and passed out, and now my back is really itchy. I’m just going to life up my shirt – let me know if you see anything.”

Just your tattoo.”

That can’t be right – I don’t have a tattoo.”

How I Came To Know It: For the artist, it goes back to 2017, but let’s stick to this album shall we and save that story.

So…earlier this year I undertook a project to “catch up” with various artists that I had in my collection but had lost touch with. I dug through and looked to see if they’d had any albums before or since I first discovered them, and when they did I’d give it a listen. This was one of those.

How It Stacks Up: As a result of the “catching up” project of 2023, I now have three K. Flay records. Another one is being released at the end of next week, but who knows if I’ll like that one enough to buy it? So for now, I have three, and of those I rank “Solutions” at #3.

Rating: 3 stars

K.Flay is a hip hop artist, but there is a lot of room to move in that now-massive genre. On “Solutions” she embraces the pop side of her sound, resulting in a feel-good party time record that is easy to enjoy, and even sneaks a bit of worldly wisdom amid all the dance-friendly fun.

The best example also leads the record off. I Like Myself (Most of the Time)” is a song about embracing a life that is devoid of perfection. The song feels like the pop friendly version of Bif Naked’s “I Love Myself Today” but more…holistic? Bif compares bad days to good ones to achieve self-affirmation. K. Flay accepts that life’s not binary like that, and real happiness comes from reconciling the good and bad parts of any day together and still being at peace with the person in the mirror. Or as Flay describes it:

“Everybody wants to be the girl
Everybody wants to be extraordinarily beautiful
Everybody wants to rule the world, or the room at least
And assume that they'll be the one with a crowded funeral

“Everybody wants to have the time
Everybody wants to count their calories, and money, and their likes
Baby, my job is just to rhyme, and I'm fine with that
Don't concern myself with all of the lives I might've had”

Well said. A couple songs later, “This Baby Don’t Cry” doubles down on this concept with a bit more recognition of someone coming out of the uncertainty of youth and into an acceptance of womanhood, and all the great things life has to offer if you shed the self-doubt and embrace them.

Like a lot of tunes on this record, “This Baby Don’t Cry” has a great beat (and an even better bass riff). “Solutions” has so many great infectious beats and hooks, it is almost too loaded with pop accessibility. It is easy to feel like it is all empty calories and forget just how fucking hard it is to write a pop hook. K. Flay writes them with practiced ease.

From a “rap” perspective, Flay’s phrasing is brilliant. She can make a song feel conversational and still artfully ride the beat. Compared to the other records in my collection, I don’t think these songs challenge her as much, however, and “Solutions” is more about provided a vibe than it is about showing off a furious flow.

Stylistically the record reminded me favourably of Caroline Rose crossed with the Ting Tings, a very sugar-forward bunch of tunes. The rhymes are predictable, but like any good pop song, the anticipation of knowing where Flay is going is part of the fun.

This record is solid and made me both thankful I’d taken the time to dig a little deeper into K. Flay’s work, and a little chagrined I’d not done it sooner. And just think, gentle reader, two even better records await!

Best tracks: I Like Myself (Most of the Time), This Baby Don’t Cry, Sister, Good News

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