Chamber folk and yacht rock meld with R&B in an elegant album that lacks focus but hints at brilliance
When she emerged in 2014, BEA1991 sang gloomy alt-pop and wore a bodysuit patterned with muscle flesh, like Robbie Williams’s Rock DJ without the lion-print pants. The eccentric image remains: Brand New Adult’s artwork shows her straddling a cow. Yet while a move towards bedroom R&B has softened the immediacy of BEA1991’s music, the smudgy textures on her debut album can still enchant.
BEA1991 brought a dreamy magic to Blood Orange’s last two albums, most notably on Freetown Sound’s stunning funk centrepiece E.V.P., where she held her own against Debbie Harry. Dev Hynes repays the favour on the strutting Did You Feel Me Slip Away; his bass lends a propulsive swagger to her reverb-treated singing voice, which drifts like elegant tumbleweed. My Own Heaven sounds like Röyksopp covering Kate Bush circa The Dreaming, on which BEA1991 cuts through the vocal palimpsest with a striking tongue-twister: “She needs an awkward mix of blatant adventure and security.” It could be a reference to the coming-of-age theme indicated by the title, an idea less clearly developed elsewhere.