Self Esteem is done holding back. With second album Prioritise Pleasure - the follow up to 2019’s Compliments Please - Rebecca Taylor expels years of self doubt, reckless behaviour, and self-destruction into an album that transforms these woes into a celebration of self-worth, sisterhood and, of course, pleasure.
It’s in this pursuit of pleasure that Taylor snatches the opportunity to embrace emotion in abundance. “Don’t be embarrassed that all you’ve had is fun” she preaches on gripping centrepiece “I Do This All The Time”, her vocals backed by a choir. The inclusion of these choral outbursts throughout the album help to reinstate Taylor’s messages of unity, with the sea of vocals welcoming washes of sonic euphoria.
The thunderous outcries of “How Can I Help You'' convey a retaliation against societal norms and the unrelenting standards that women are expected to yield to. “But I don’t know shit, do I?” she snarls, supported by tribal rhythms and a cavernous bass drum beat that simply demands you realise your own self worth. Similarly across the title track, Taylor’s rhythmic flourishes allow the powerful chorus to explode into the importance of prioritising yourself. Elsewhere, “Moody” - a highlight of the record - not only contains a funk-pop pre-chorus that’ll make Dua Lipa green with envy but also the wickedly witty line “Sexting you at the mental health talk seems counterproductive”.
In between those intense flashes of emotion though, Prioritise Pleasure also makes space for contemplation and quiet vulnerability. In “Still Reigning” for example, we see her step back from the flag-waving hedonist into a more empathic, nurturing role. “The love you need is gentle, the love you need is kind” she muses, like a warm hug from the big sister you never had. Although perhaps the most stark and goosebump inducing moment on the record is during opener “I’m Fine”. In a spoken word snippet taken from a National Youth Theatre workshop on the topic of consent, we hear an unnamed woman recount that “There is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman who appears completely deranged” - a bleak reminder of the fear of male violence shared by countless women and the normalisation of it in our society.
Commanding, assertive, and powerful, Prioritise Pleasure is everything pop music should be. Wholly unafraid to tackle difficult subjects with ease, in Rebecca Taylor we also have the makings of a serious pop behemoth.