Perhaps this album would sit more favourably were it not by Kali Uchis, but my bar for the decorated Columbian-American singer and songwriter is high. Uchis is reputed for teleporting her audience beyond realms of familiarity. Red Moon In Venus does not.
To her credit, Uchis is consistently luxurious. Her voice is decadent, her melodies blissful. Especially on ‘Moral Conscience’ , following the line “I can only scream, all these feelings I have about it,” Uchis jumps an octave, giving the initial impression of a scream, but this topples into a beautiful and controlled scalic descent. You would be hard pressed to find any fault with Uchis’ vocal performance.
Red Moon In Venus has stellar vocals, production, even visual art, but is at no point gripping. Perhaps its lyricism is the problem: for a body of work “reflecting the divine femininity of the moon and Venus,” the content is mundane and repetitive. Put differently, it’s frustrating to hear another song which muses: “what’s the point of all the pretty things in the world/if I don’t have you,” as she does on ‘Blue’. The hope is that Uchis is musically diverse enough to express sensuality in many different forms, but evidently her lyrical capability falters.
Sonically, too, Red Moon in Venus comfortably sits in psychedelia R&B. The fact that this album is so easy to categorise is to its detriment. Uchis’ malleability is best exemplified looking to her past choices of features. Take Rico Nasty’s influence on ‘¡aquí yo mando!’ or PARTYNEXTDOOR’s on ‘fue mejor’, from her last album Sin Miedo. Most famously, what makes ‘After The Storm’ on Isolation so striking is its blend of celestially delicate verses interspersed with grinding, low-pitched rap: Tyler the Creator and Kali Uchis prove how scintillating a collaboration of dichotomic styles can be.
The only standout moment of this album was ‘Fantasy’ with Don Toliver, for which Uchis brings in producer P2J (Beyoncé, Wizkid, Stormzy, Tems…). This transmutes her spacey, layered vocals to textured Afropop, a much more intriguing sound. However, Omar Apollo and Summer Walker are stylistically very similar to Uchis, and she doesn’t experiment of her own accord elsewhere. As a result, the album overall sounds somewhat unchallenging, rendering it forgettable.
Red Moon In Venus is undoubtedly a great addition – for those who enjoy celestial electronica, R&B, and romantic lyrical themes understood through astrology. But there is not much for anyone beyond this target market, which is why it falls short.
Image “Kali Uchis” by thecomeupshow is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.