Okay so: SAP | Pitchfork

Kaya Wilkins opens her third album as Okay Kaya with a strikingly strange image: “Like a newborn building/I take up space.” Aside from the strangeness of the comparison, there’s also an unsettling Frankensteinian composition in the juxtaposition of “newborn” and “building,” a dissonance that grows more troubling the further she elaborates: She’s covered in scaffolding, she’s clearing the air, people run nervously under her. As metaphors go, it’s laborious, but Wilkins uses the music to show us what it means. As she sings “Come into my metal arms,” ​​in step-by-step harmony, cymbals shudder and crash, deep bass echoes beneath her as synthesizers, courtesy of Nick Hakim, creak and whine. The music takes on a sense of scale, and suddenly Wilkins is the building, erecting right in front of us.

On previous albums, Wilkins wrote of her emotions with a similar titanic wonder, as if she were mapping the surface of an alien planet via a probe, but the music often didn’t keep up. Her lyrics focused on the alienating gaze of filmmaker John Wilson, creator of the cult hit HBO Max How, with whom she recently had a podcast interview and who, it turns out, shares her belief in the thematic possibilities of scaffolding. Wilson and Wilkins are spiritual siblings, and Wilkins patiently sings about your cerebrospinal fluid in the same way Wilson sincerely stammers about the importance of plastic on furniture, both on the border between charming and tacky.

Until now, Okay Kaya’s records often felt like an immersive point of view in search of a sound, but beyond JUICEWilkins’ arrangements have finally caught up with her free spirit. Using a wide range of collaborators from Hakim to Adam Green, Deem Spencer and Eli Keszler, the music is JUICE is bold and twisty, full of unexpected interventions like the synthesized tuba that erupts on “mood personified in object” or the depth pulse on “Inside of a Plum,” which echoes right after Wilkins dreamily compares her orgasm to “diving into space.” There is more going on, in all corners of her songs, than before, and as she continues to try new things, the music gains weight and mass, bringing her strange insights into the picture.

Take the bitingly funny “Jazzercise”, in which Wilkins’ impersonation of a chipper fitness instructor (“Spandex, Lycra, every day”) quickly jumps into alarming territory – “Did you know / Without the ego / There’s no story / Just be here and being been” — as the Casio preset funk ripples from the backing track, oblivious to her existential panic. It’s smart and astute, and she could never have put down anything like this on her relatively sleepy earlier records. Here, as in the edited stacked harmonies on “Pathologically Yours,” Wilkins touches on some of the early Laurie Anderson’s playfulness, a sacred touchstone she’s never been around before.

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