Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

PAINLESS is a spectacularly woven return from Nilüfer Yanya


Release date: 04 March 2022
Nilufer yanya painless art
01 March 2022, 10:51 Written by Chris Taylor
It’s always a risk to come right out of the gate with a concept album. Especially one that coats a shopping list of self-doubts in a veneer of dystopian satire.

But Nilüfer Yanya somehow managed to pull it off in some style, and sustain it for almost an hour, with her debut Miss Universe. The safety net of this facade helped Yanya craft beautifully textured worlds, tinged with a sadness she might have otherwise shied away from.

There’s only so long that an artist can hide behind a concept, however. Luckily, with her second album PAINLESS, the complete Yanya steps out from behind the curtain. Her adventurous musicality is still here, as is that voice which continues to steal the show, but now we get to see the full picture. The anxieties, the self-awareness of faults and frailties, the tangle of psyche spilt out on the table for all to see.

It’s that voice, halfway between over-bearing sadness and a deadpan apathy, that brings PAINLESS its incomparable mood. Over lush brass, she transforms a toxic relationship into nothing as she indifferently sings “I don’t even like you bitch”. Wielded by anyone else, it could sound robotic and soulless, but Yanya has a way of making that release seem all the more cathartic. Carefully directing the tempest of emotions.

Working alongside Wilma Archer, Bullion, and Jazzi Bobbi, Yanya has incredible sense of push and pull, pressure and release, that extends beyond her voice and lyrics. “midnight sun”, a track that owes a lot to Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”, ends with Yanya’s delicate falsetto emerging from a riotous burst of scuzzy riffs – silk and knives. But this unlikely pair somehow works in perfect harmony.

Those fuzz-laden guitars crop up frequently, as do hip-hop drum breaks mark out the likes of stellar opener “the dealer”. Otherworldly synths on “L/R” feel natural alongside a Turkish folk instrument often played by Yanya’s father in her youth. The direction she takes things is rarely predictable which makes PAINLESS, like Miss Universe, such a thrill, with hooks surprising you from the most unlikely places.

Crunchy, ethereal, and odd in its harsh beauty, PAINLESS is a record of contradictions that Yanya spectacularly weaves together. Allowing us to see more of Nilüfer Yanya – as a person, as a musician, as a lyricist – each part is as intriguing and rewarding to dive into as the last.

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