Ashnikko
WEEDKILLER


2.5
average

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
December 16th, 2023 | 59 replies


Release Date: 08/25/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: More conceptual, more ambitious... and sadly, less engaging.

Since the beginning of her career, Ashnikko has been straddling the line between genuine artistry and absurd self-parody. Whether she’s doing so effectively or not… well, that’s certainly up for debate. Just take a look at this quote from her 2020 interview with NME, as she describes her musical style:

“I wrote it down the other day, it’s angry, punk, hip-hop, sad-girl-feminist, bubblegum, poo-poo music. It’s a lot of things. I find it really hard to stick to one thing because I’m so fickle and I like to change my mind a lot.”

Now, that’s a LOT of tags all at once – many quite contradictory, too. I can’t think of any other artist who’s ever labeled their work as “poo-poo music” (a term that smacks of self-deprecation), especially after using the label “sad-girl-feminist”. Still, Ashnikko’s debut mixtape did give some reason and context to the above quote; after all, Demidevil was filled with contradictions in its own right. It was bold and confident, yet not afraid to linger in its own ridiculous sense of camp. The lyrics were brash and brazen, yet delivered over slick, polished beats. And while the mixtape was – quite frankly – a mess, at least it could be dubbed an entertaining mess.

All of this is to say that I had NO idea what to expect going into WEEDKILLER. Would it be just as zany and aggro as Demidevil, or would Ashnikko rein things in and deliver a more measured experience? After all, the album’s rollout suggested something more conceptual and ambitious. From the “environment vs. technology” message to the elaborate visual component – including Ashnikko’s representation of an oppressed fae civilization – there was a lot to chew on before the record even came out. However, while I can respect the attempt at elevating oneself artistically, this also happens to be the big millstone that drags the album down.

But let’s shelve that talking point for the time being, and just focus on what WEEDKILLER brings to the table. On a surface level, Ashnikko’s debut LP isn’t too far removed from what she was going for on Demidevil. Similar aggro-raps, highly processed melodic singing, glossy production, brash attitude, you get the idea. Yet, as I hinted at earlier, the music is (for the most part) more restrained than on the mixtape. Sure, you’ll occasionally get a boldfaced banger like “Cheerleader” or “Chokehold Cherry Python” (the former’s chorus gets stuck in my head all the time…), but such moments are tempered with a stronger overall melodic sensibility. In other words, expect less rapping and more autotuned singing this time around.

Things start off promisingly enough: opener “World Eater” sets the stage nicely with a cinematic flair, as Ashnikko cycles through just about every vocal style and mood you’ll hear on the rest of WEEDKILLER. And, to give her additional credit here, she does juggle these different sounds quite well from time to time. Just check out the title track, which sees her switching almost effortlessly between eccentric yelps and vaguely Middle Eastern vocal inflections, all while accompanied by an aggressive, militant trap beat. The song successfully bridges together Ashnikko’s various strengths as an artist, linking her outrageous larger-than-life persona with her penchant for infectious pop hooks. Then there’s “Super Soaker”, whose near-constant, propulsive beat makes even its most subdued moments compelling and energetic. Still, I wish guest artist Daniela Lalita was given a little more to contribute with her feature.

Now, this is all well and good, but how does it all come together? Well, unfortunately, this is where we’ll have to swing back around to the “millstone” I mentioned earlier. For an album that purports to have such a unified concept and vision, WEEDKILLER is surprisingly scattershot and unfocused in its approach. In trying to expand her stylistic range and sonic palette, Ashnikko has created a record that’s not as fun as Demidevil, while also not being as deep or intriguing as its concept suggests. As a result, most of the album is stuck in creative limbo – not having much of an established identity or personality. Moreover, many of the softer and more reserved tracks are simply… well, boring. “Miss Nectarine”, for instance, plods along at a snail’s pace while Ashnikko goes through the motions, delivering some of the most uninspired vocal melodies on the record. Meanwhile, “Possession of a Weapon” is a complete non-starter. Sure, there are some nice atmospheric backing vocals here and there, but they never build up to anything truly substantial or interesting. Tracks like these not only drag the album down, but they also make its concept less compelling and engaging.

Barring a few exceptions, most of WEEDKILLER can be split up into two categories: banger or mid. There’s not much wiggle room in between. I hate to be “that guy” who states that Ashnikko should simply return to the dumb fun of Demidevil, as I do believe she has the creative potential to expand on what she attempted with WEEDKILLER. The problem here is that she couldn’t quite reconcile the bold, brazen side of her identity with the more contemplative moments she tried to incorporate; as a result, both aspects of the album come up short. To be clear, you could make a killer playlist with the best cuts here, especially the super-energetic songs like the aforementioned “Cheerleader” and “Chokehold Cherry Python”. Unfortunately, WEEDKILLER as a whole isn’t quite as fun.



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user ratings (27)
2.7
average


Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2023


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh man, it's a longboi!



Yeah, it took me a long time to get this one out, but I'm glad it's finally out there nonetheless. Really hoping the next Ashnikko album is a bit better though :[

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
December 16th 2023


1714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Awesome review Koris! I feel fairly similar to you about most of this with the only extremely bright spots being the closer with Ethel Cain and definitely Cheerleader.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2023


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, I appreciate it! Yeah, I definitely wanted to enjoy this more than I did, especially since the highlights are so damn fun

LilLioness
December 16th 2023


3369 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I only liked the bratty tracks, like "You Make Me Sick!" and "Cheerleader." Her attempts at being seductive don't really work for me.

Purpl3Spartan
December 16th 2023


8460 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

EARKILLER

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2023


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Can't wait for the stans to find this review and attack me accordingly

LilLioness
December 16th 2023


3369 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I think I am the closest thing to one of those on this site.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 16th 2023


70239 Comments


Nah I simp

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 16th 2023


70239 Comments


Only half ironically

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2023


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^ lol, I was about to mention you when I saw Lioness' comment

Pikazilla
December 16th 2023


29724 Comments


assniko

LilLioness
December 16th 2023


3369 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Koris, I was trying to summon my pot.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2023


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ah, fair play then

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2023


60230 Comments

Album Rating: 2.3

"All of this is to say that I had NO idea what to expect going into WEEDKILLER. Would it be just as zany and aggro as Demidevil, or would Ahnikko rein things in and deliver a more measured experience?"

*Ashnikko + maybe not the best to frame a paragraph precisely about the field of your expectations with a disclaimer saying that you had no expectations

this commentary does put a finger on the #1 most important fact that this album was released and still kind of exists

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2023


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"*Ashnikko + maybe not the best to frame a paragraph precisely about the field of your expectations with a disclaimer saying that you had no expectations"



I might have worded it a bit awkwardly, but I wasn't saying I had no expectations. I just wasn't really sure what I'd get after how crazy/ridiculous Demidevil was. I'll see if I can reword it though



"this commentary does put a finger on the #1 most important fact that this album was released and still kind of exists"



"still kind of exists" is a great way to put it, lol

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 17th 2023


70239 Comments


i just cant really think of any reason not to 5 this

LilLioness
December 17th 2023


3369 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Seductive Ash just sounds derpy. Either she needs to go all in on her abrasive persona or allow herself a modicum of nuance.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 17th 2023


70239 Comments


Well the nuance option I feel is off the table lmao

What songs are you considering seductive rather than abrasive?

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 17th 2023


70239 Comments


I think at bare minimum the entire planet can agree the song with Ethel is the worst thing ever recorded

LilLioness
December 17th 2023


3369 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pots, the songs where she is talking to a woman. It is the issue of 'Slumber Party' rearing its head again. When she tries to be sexy, it doesn't hit right.



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