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  • Cy White

Laura Mvula: Pink Noise

As ever, Laura Mvula has burst the understanding of modern music wide open. It's incredibly current while simultaneously being ahead of its time. A sound that's equal parts electric currents and tribal naturalism. Her voice calls to the listener and demands a response. After all, this isn't white noise (meaningless television fluff at the end of more meaningless fluff). This is noise is pink, bold, brazen, loud. The antithesis of nothingness, it's a jarring declaration of "I am." A twining, howling love note that begs to be reciprocated (if not in kind, in some way to give her wail a destination to land).

Pink Noise suggests something inherently feminine, a softness around the edges but at its core, still red and passionate and full of fire, rage and energy. It's a searing piece of music that dares you to turn away even when it knows you won't. You can't. The sound is just too intriguing.

Because of the nature of Mvula's instrument, when combined with the bombastic soundscapes (equal parts sparse and overwhelmingly full) it can be draining on the ears. So much weight in this wall of sound that its effervescence is somewhat oppressive. But at the end of it all, Pink Noise is about love. In all the facets of it. Even the broken sort. The sort you have to burn and work for. The kind that abandons you. Love that is a product of putting your all into the things that are most important to you. The album is at its most explosively expressive when she leans into this. "Conditional," for example, takes the face slap of betrayal and turns it into a celebration of sounds. Hard and painful as it might be, the music doesn't lament. It rages.

Mvula is overindulgent in her emotions. That's not necessarily a good or bad thing. It's simply a reality, one of many, etched inside this album's DNA. From opening track, "Safe Passage," Mvula holds nothing back, immediately pushing the solidity of the sound on the listener. You're either forced to lean back from the blast radius or compelled to move closer to embrace the sonic radiation. That's what Pink Noise is: an atomic bomb, a musical cloud of intense heat and searing brightness.

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