new music: neneh cherry’s first original album in 17 years ‘blank project’ is badass. #soundcheck

February 24, 2014

Though Neneh Cherry put out a cover album in 2012 with jazz collective The Thing, The Cherry Thing, it’s been 17 years since there was a proper Neneh Cherry solo album. In that time, the post-punk scene she helped define early in her career was revived as a mainstream phenomenon. On her latest, Blank Project, Neneh Cherry proves she’s uninterested in revisiting past triumphs.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor
Photos by Kim Hiorthoy

Blank Project was recorded during a personal crisis, and the songs show that emotional urgency. Simultaneously sparse and anxious, the tension between the jittering distorted drum and the minimal instrumentation in the title track captures the tension at the end of a long relationship. “Too many times you come crawling, say sorry / too late / paper cut regrets will not stick / better change.” It’s simultaneously sad, regretful, and cooly angry. On “Weightless,” her voice burrows into a distorted bassline. It’s the missing link between the electro bass synths (which have life and motion, but thankfully don’t wobble…) of Blank Project and Rip Rig + Panic.

The album pulls at the tension between the electronic and organic. Producer Four-Tet does a fantastic job of crafting arrangements that sound like 5 minutes from right now. The synths nod to glitch and dubstep but keep the focus squarely on Cherry’s haunted and haunting voice. Nowhere is that more clear on the stunning ballad “422.” The wide open drums and cavernous synths give Neneh Cherry the space to pour open her soul on the track. Her collaboration with Robyn, on the post-punk “Out of the Blue,” is the track most destined for single status. But closing track “Everything” is the one destined to be stuck in your head for the next week. This is the new Neneh Cherry, wiser and more regretful than the old Neneh Cherry, but just as committed to pushing the envelope musically as ever.

Stream the whole album here.
Pre-order here.