Anita Blay, daughter of Ghanian parents, has been dubbed by the typically over-zealous British press as the Next Big Thing. It makes for an interesting experiment: Are we about to witness the quick spark of an act that never gets out of the U.K. because the press has turned her from the Beatles to Sigue Sigue Sputnik in a matter of weeks? The interesting twist here is that Blay, under the moniker thecocknbullkid, has the vision and the chops to become big. If she survives the hype, she could be one to watch.
Basically her sound is Paisley Park meets Leonard Cohen — dark, literate tales of sexual obsession and liberation chanted and cooed over an ’80s synth-funk beat. Querelle gives us a quick taste of what is to come. “Kiss Kiss Kill” is the perfect leadoff, with its smoky transgressive lyrics, sharp keys and a booming bass straight outta Minneapolis. That is the template for the other three tracks, but Blay never gets hemmed in by her style. Her phrasing is always nuanced and different, and the lyrics to “I’m Not Sorry,” “Boys and Girls” and the kinda creepy “Clean Apart I” were made for funk. The mix of old-school synth with more recent electronica touches works brilliantly.
And, to use that word the British press loves so much, Querelle is brilliant. Anita Blay has a brave poetic spirit that allows her to explore both her own lusts and failures and those of the people around her. I hope she has a chance to develop as an artist before the spotlights get too bright.