If Ariana Grande is pop’s Barbarella, then Kali Uchis is surely its Pussy Galore. The Los Angeles-based 26-year-old specialises in slow-jam hybrids of shimmering soul, lipgloss-sticky funk, sugary R&B and syrupy trap-pop with (you get the consistency) a Y2K hyperreal sheen. Her EP from April this year didn’t sound that far off Grande’s Positions. Embracing her Colombian heritage with her first fully Spanish release – her name translates as Without Fear (of Love and Other Demons), plus, for the hell of of it, an infinity symbol – Uchis’s follow-up to her acclaimed 2018 breakthrough Isolation makes a superb bid for the Bond soundtrack with her belting cover of Cuban singer La Lupe’s Qué Te Pedí. Equally cinematic is the trip-hop of Vaya Con Dios, in which she sings seductively over what sounds like Portishead’s Sour Times.
It’s a shame that these bursts are few and far between: for the most part, this album deals in a sort of muffled, dreamy malaise (floaty reggaeton, noncommittal bangers), nods to Spain’s Bad Gyal and ticks off 2020 pop’s now customary list of girl-on-girl tonguing (in the video for single La Luz), lowercase tracklisting and a Rico Nasty guest feature. This album doesn’t feel much like Uchis’s artistic step-up, her Norman Fucking Rockwell or El Mal Querer, but more like a suck-it-and-see step on – a hastily released album that suggests her best is yet to come.