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What A Devastating Turn of Events is Rachel Chinouriri’s maximalist pop debut

"What A Devastating Turn of Events"

Release date: 03 May 2024
Rachel Chinouriri What A Devastating Turn Of Events packshot
03 May 2024, 09:30 Written by Sam Franzini

Despite its name, What A Devastating Turn of Events isn’t all that bleak.

The debut album from twenty-five-year-old Rachel Chinouriri charts the highs and lows of life like a pro, finding humour in its dark moments and grace in its upswings. Look no further than “Dumb Bitch Juice,” a swaggering song she sings about returning to what you know is bad for you just to see where she stands on the gleeful humility of making fun of yourself.

Other times, Turn of Events actually does detail instances a little harder on the psyche than most; the use of the word ‘devastating’ is fitting at moments. “My mistake was to let you in,” she sings on “My Everything,” as a bizarre (complimentary) chorus of voices swirl into the song. “I never know if you’re sorry for what you said / For all I know you adore me but keep it all inside your head,” she admits on “All I Ever Asked,” which bargains for a partner’s time. And on the viral, exuberantly fun mid-2000s jam “Never Need Me,” she hopes her presence isn’t required anymore. The delightful “It Is What It Is” includes peppy back-and-forth spoken word verses about modern dating struggles – sort of like a sillier version of Self Esteem’s “I Do This All The Time.” “Your friends tell me you like me and I like you but not like that but maybe I do?” she asks, the not knowing being part of the fun.

The joy she has on several tracks doesn’t mean she’s a less serious person elsewhere – the album is peppered with deep, dramatic cuts that prove her strength as a songwriter able to tackle topics with clarity and insight. “My Blood,” one of the most striking songs on first listen, addresses body dysmorphia and self-image – “What if I’m not worth healing?” she asks on its staggering pre-chorus. The aptly titled “I Hate Myself” recognises that not only societal forces are at play, but oneself... “I’m a victim of my mind,” she repeats. “They say looks can kill, and they almost did,” she admits of her journey.

While the title track messes around with DMs, follower counts and FaceTimes, it's a little too trivial for the title’s weight, “Robbed,” even with its chill, Khruangbin-like riff, is a story with no happy ending. “Words of a story shouldn’t hurt like this,” she sings, recalling one’s lost summer, “Blank silhouettes of you in memories that don’t exist.” With its thundering drums, too, “Garden of Eden” is an intoxicating ode to youth disappearing; “My god, it’s sinking in / There’s no point to anything.” She uses her voice fully on the pop-rock cut “The Hills,” which deals with outgrowing your surroundings.

All in all, What A Devastating Turn Of Events might be looked back on by Chinouriri as a time period hard to deal with, or one helped through writing, but its listeners get to enjoy indie pop cuts that are filled with humour, personality, and style. After a string of EPs, Chinouriri arrives at her first full-length with confidence and ease. Devastation has never sounded so fun.

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