Arca
KiCk i


3.2
good

Review

by Kirk Bowman STAFF
June 26th, 2020 | 96 replies


Release Date: 07/17/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: tripping forward

Arca has been one of the most successful auteurs of the 2010s. Responsible or at minimum involved with some of the best experimental hip-hop, R&B and art pop (some of the higher-profile production credits include Bjork, Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs and Kanye) from the decade, her solo work has also excelled. From her early EPs' flirtations with glitch hop on UNO to her later ambient pop on XL and all the deconstructed club and IDM in the middle, she's successfully pushed the boundaries of more genres than albums she's released. Each album has taken another powerful step to expressing her identity, with Xen exploring gender as an alternate identity, Mutant pushing at the boundaries of the body and gender all together, and her self-titled a raw look at her identity. Her latest, KiCk i, an attempt to capture her entire identity with all its facets and contrasts, is a bit of a stumble compared to her other confident strides, but she's still going in the right direction for her illustrious career.

For the first time, she has released a major project that doesn't redefine her. The clearest ethos for KiCk i is that this is her pop album, her attempt to capture a wider market with a more accessible version of her style. This is not a bad thing, contrary to popular belief. In fact, there was enormous potential in an Arca record that recaptured some of the enormous energy in her previous works, which had one common flaw - a very specific mood and sound, excluding many other feelings. An album that felt like a mission statement was what she needed. But this feels more like a B-sides collection - greatest hits, filtered. Many of these tracks feel like merely good versions of styles she has previously crafted to near perfection. "Nonbinary," with its bass crunches and synth stabs underlying confident lyricism, is a lightweight compared to "Ass Swung Low" or segments of Entranas. (The latter is a great comparison piece - it balances out chaos and peace very effectively, although in a much more pessimistic fashion than Arca is attempting here.) "Calor" is striking, with a beautiful ending segment, but it often feels eclipsed by Arca, a much more cohesive vision of the same kind of operatic performance. It doesn't help that it's followed up by a mediocre Bjork track in "Afterwards."

That's not to say that there aren't good songs on here, or any new elements. "Rip the Slit" and "Mequetrefe" both use vocal-bending techniques that are not entirely foreign to Arca but show a lot of promise and help each track gain an extra edge. Voices in general are more diverse than on almost any of her other projects, with rapid shifting vocals cutting through and over the more theatrical ones, and the various guest features helping to present a wider range of tones. And none of these features (besides the previously mentioned "Afterwards") are disappointing - each on some of the best songs of the album. If you were excited for Arca feat. Sophie, stay excited, "La Chiqui" absolutely lives up to the hype. Solo tracks are good too - "Time" is perhaps a hint into her next path, with a transcendent, almost trance-inspired sound, and "Machote" is one of the catchiest songs she's ever written. Hooks are the main upgrade on KiCk i, with a few songs on here ("KLK" and "Watch" especially) that might actually work on a dancefloor in the right context.

Context, unfortunately, is not this album's strong suit. The main problem it faces is trying to successfully combine her new, slower palate with the tense, rapid-fire elements she's known for. To anyone who has been listening to her discography for long, this is clearly something that will be difficult for anyone to pull off. And to her credit, she tries. As noted, she does sometimes succeed on individual songs. The problem is the tracklist. "Calor" and "Afterwards" don't fit in at all between "Riquiqui" and "Watch," even with the stuttering drums she uses to attempt to align them. "Time" and its hopeful heartbeat is a weird pick right after "Nonbinary" and its dark acceleration, especially when there are plenty of other spots either of them would have fit fine instead. The whole first half is full of these kinds of poor sequencing decisions. Because of problems like these, I wouldn't recommend it for first-time Arca listeners. She has enough excellence in her discography to justify trying something else instead, perhaps Mutant for electronica fans, Stretch 1 for hip-hop fans, etc. Long-time supporters will probably be trying this whatever I say, and for them, this is definitely worth it for the highlights if nothing else. It's certainly interesting to compare it to her other works, and showcases her enormous potential for solo pop sensibilities. Get excited for her other projects that are already in construction as we speak - this is the first KiCk of a 4-part series. Based on the success of this first edition, it's very possible that one of them will be her best album yet.



Recent reviews by this author
Jessy Lanza All the TimeJames Ferraro Live at Primavera Sound 2012
Peter CottonTale CATCHSophie Product
Hot Tub Boys What's Your DamageGrimes Miss Anthropocene
user ratings (95)
3.2
good
related reviews

Stretch 2

Sheep

Mutant

Arca
trending other albums

1989

Folklore

Golden Hour

Syro


Comments:Add a Comment 
granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
June 26th 2020


1067 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

try "machote" if nothing else

Lord(e)Po)))ts
June 26th 2020


62667 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Kitsch novelty-core fad, will go out of style and be forgotten.



The musical equivalent of a fidget spinner.

Digging: Godfather Don - Beats, Bangers and Biscuits...

Lord(e)Po)))ts
June 26th 2020


62667 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I respect her ideology but her music is just complete shit. You just can't produce timeless, evocative music using gimmicks as a crutch.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 26th 2020


20220 Comments


never could get into arca and for some reason i dunno like. "KiCk i" goddammit that leaves me so unsatisfied as an album title. but i'll test it out (i know I say i'll listen to things and I never do but this one I'm interested in trying)

TundraL5Z
June 27th 2020


5358 Comments


She has the worst album covers I've ever seen

Digging: Alustrium - Insurmountable

Lord(e)Po)))ts
June 27th 2020


62667 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm certain Grimes would beg to differ

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2020


20220 Comments


its a tossup between joni mitchell and hildegard von bingen

Lord(e)Po)))ts
June 27th 2020


62667 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I didnt mean that grimes album covers are worse btw, just that I think claire would love arca's covers



Just realized that was not clear

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2020


20220 Comments


I hereby retract my jab

Asdfp277
June 27th 2020


23039 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

whats the gimmick, specifically?

Lord(e)Po)))ts
June 27th 2020


62667 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

All of it. The whole damn thing. Everything about it.

Asdfp277
June 27th 2020


23039 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

uhm

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2020


22275 Comments


Summary on point.

Digging: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - K.G.

Asdfp277
June 27th 2020


23039 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

"Responsible or at minimum involved with some of the best experimental hip-hop, R&B and art pop (some of the higher-profile production credits include Bjork, Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs and Kanye) from the decade"



why not put the "from the decade" before the parenthesis?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2020


20220 Comments


arca earned my goodwill via the lil drum rolls from "papi pacify" by fka twigs

Asdfp277
June 27th 2020


23039 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

she's just a nice gal with nice beats

conesmoke
June 27th 2020


6420 Comments


Art kinda rox

gryndstone
June 27th 2020


1766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is incredible

Lord(e)Po)))ts
June 27th 2020


62667 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

uhm





it's seriously just everything from the art to the production. i think it's pretty self explanatory tbh. shit like pc music, deconstructed club, vaporwave, and other modern 'genres' of that ilk which emphasize distorting popular music with more obscure influences and aspects of culture are inherently gimmicky. it's literally built into their appeal. they vary in approach but across the board more often than not they are majorly reliant on pretty obvious ones. in this case the art style is a gimmick, the imagery is a gimmick, the particular styles of vocal manipulation, and frantic, bombastic rhythmic ADD and cutting contrasted with unconventional painfully slow passages, metallic production, ... it's all just a series of particular, fine-tuned gimmicks used to create a fashionable, futuristic thematic that is attractive and marketable right now. That doesn't mean it's all inherently bad, even if i think in this instance it is pretty terrible. But it does mean the novelty wears pretty thin and that it will inevitably be rendered obsolete by the next 'cutting-edge' pop fad.



Having said all that, I'm just finishing up my second listen of this and I think I was a bit harsh on first listen. This one is at least vastly more listenable than that @@@@@ comp was. If that's a 1 then this should be more like a 2-2.5.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
June 27th 2020


62667 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

There's all kinds of inherently gimmicky music that i've fell in and out of love with. Even Arca entranced me a bit at first. But in retrospect there are none too many that I reflect on fondly over time, particularly in instances where it eventually becomes apparent that that's all the artist really has going for them . *cough beats antique*



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy