Search The Line of Best Fit
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So Vanilla is an exciting blend of Viji's influences

"So Vanilla"

Release date: 27 October 2023
Viji So Vanilla cover
25 October 2023, 09:00 Written by Vicky Greer

Viji is a name that has been generating a lot of buzz these days.

First signed to It-label Dirty Hit, then to the uber-cool Speedy Wunderground, Viji – aka Vanilla Jenner – had earned the trust of industry tastemakers long before her debut album came along.

But now the moment has arrived with the release of So Vanilla, an auspicious first album that predicts a bright future for the multi-instrumentalist and her blend of 90s soft rock with modern bedroom pop.

Opening tracks "Anything" and "Down" are an early reminder of artists from the past and present, from grungy guitar bands like Sonic Youth to newer names like Lauran Hibberd, fusing shoegaze-y guitars with DIY experimental pop, plus hints of the wit and attitude of Wet Leg, performed with Viji’s sense of ease on "Karaoke" and ‘Sedative’.

The majority of the album stays at this chilled-out pace, but songs like "Sharks" have moments that pay tribute to her emo roots. In these more surprising moments, comparisons to other artists fade away and we hear Viji emerge with her own voice. This faster-pace track contrasts the earlier sound of "Sundress in Pink", which is focused on acoustic guitars and stripped-back vocals that feel like a lazy summer day. But these two opposing sounds still remain cohesive in Viji’s spaced-out, dreamy vibe.

The layered, textured instruments and hypnotic vocals and synth of "1850" and "Blanket" show a lot of promise for the innovative directions Viji is taking her music. While So Vanilla doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, it’s an exciting blend of the music, instruments and places that have influenced the artist throughout her life, taking from a wide and eclectic selection of genres and styles.

So Vanilla has a sense of maturity to it that leaves you surprised that it’s only Viji’s first full-length project. It’s impressive for a debut record, but there are moments throughout where you wish that she had taken her wide-ranging influences to more experimental places. But the high points of the album promise a musically adventurous future for Viji.

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