The 50 Best Albums of 2021, No 1: Self Esteem – Prioritize Pleasure | Self-love

For many pop artists, the pandemic has been a downsizing exercise. Taylor Swift took advantage of the sudden lull to avoid big pop moments in favor of soothing and sedating folk and tactile electronics; Lorde and Billie Eilish returned with low-key, locked-out designed albums that consciously avoided the monstrous glow of stardom. These changes reflected a collective sense of introspection and reassessment of what is important. Boiling Your Feelings is only matched by online quizzes when it comes to locking hobbies.

Prioritize Pleasure, Rebecca Taylor’s brilliantly daring second album under the name Self Esteem, sounds with that emotional vulture theme – but it’s quickly alchimized in an intoxicating rush of achievement. Feelings don’t just bubble to the surface, they rise like spitting volcanoes, urgent and ugly. In a pop landscape that often seems to bottle everything inside, Priority to Pleasure marked a hugely relevant unblocking not just of the last 18 months of festering emotions, but of an entire lifetime.

After a decade surrounded by half the darlings of indie Slow Club, Taylor released Compliments Please, her debut album under the name Self Esteem, in 2019. An attempt to move away from her explosive indie past. pop escape, she often seemed resigned to it. destiny. “What I could have accomplished if I hadn’t tried to please,” she sighs over Rollout. On this shameless follow-up, Taylor puts her needs first. The title song – a big-screen ode to self-love in all its forms – deals with the benefits of ignoring that urge to shape-shift, diminish, and instead dare to break the mold. This awareness is reflected in Johan Hugo’s production of Very Best, which builds the monumental choir – all distorted guitar grains and common voices – like a wave crashing onto the rocks.

Self-esteem: Moody – vidéo

Taylor, now 35, has grown into an outspoken and proud pop star who dissects her emotions in razor-sharp, often dark and always physically arousing testimonials. Inspired by musicals and the powerful expression of Drag Race, his second album proudly wears his theatricality. The single Moody opens with the excellent line “Sexting you at the mental health talk seems counterproductive”, before riding a wobbly synth riff in its sweet, pep-rally chorus. The song is a recovery, Taylor said, of the derogatory “mardy,” and it features an alchemical transformation that runs through the album: after years of being told she was too big, too bold, too, she celebrates. all of these things like positives in all caps.

The album’s weight and physique, all of Yeezus’ bouncy rhythms and melodies, are balanced by Taylor’s ability to zoom in on the details of life, coupled with his economic spirit. Fucking Wizardry instantly throws the listener into this uncontrolled period following a break-up where texts are still being sent but no one knows where the lines are. Taylor berates both herself and her unconscious ex, but there’s also a moment of almost divine clarity: “Can’t stress this enough / You’ll never know how to love,” she sings as the song’s primal march changes to a crawl. “I ignored the warnings / But from there I learn.” As at all times of the album when the fog rises, Taylor is joined by a small choir of friends who reiterate and cosign her emotions.

Their presence also anchors the first single I Do This All the Time, with its inflated coda of “I’ll take care, I’ll read again, I’ll Sing again, I Will” transformed into an act of ultimate defiance. It’s the climax of Taylor’s lyric verses, in which she tackles social anxiety, toxic behavior, and death on a gentle trip-hop beat. And that’s right in verse one. The heaviness is balanced by a comedic flair that emerges in the form of fun life lessons (“Don’t send those long paragraphs / Stop, don’t do it”) and well-deserved self-help maxims (“All days that you get to have are big ”).

In verse four, Taylor focuses on a relationship gone awry. Her subject is mourned and revered in opposing lines before that sense of clarity returns, clear as day. “It was really pretty miserable trying to love you,” she sings as a string unfolds skyward and the clouds part. He is a confessional lyric, swindler, made to be shouted at him in common moments of catharsis. After nearly two years of locking up great emotions in tight spaces, the daring, brash and magnificent Prioritize Pleasure feels like a sweet relief.