- Although New York-based newcomer LAFAWNDAH is of mixed Egyptian, English and Iranian heritage, her self-titled debut EP, which was recorded and produced in Guadeloupe, explores Caribbean zouk. Her friend Emily King, making her debut here under the rather brilliant cod-Swahili alias Garagembanda, produced the EP.
What makes the four tracks on LAFAWNDAH work has little to do with technical prowess: neither the production nor LAFAWNDAH's pleasant but thin voice are particularly remarkable. But her knack for a hook is strong, and together her and King evoke a rich landscape writhing with life. "TANGO DOWN" is the standout. Over a galloping tom-led beat, LAFAWNDAH layers staccato harmonies and complements them with frog croaks and bird trills. On "CHILI" synthetic buzzing tones and chirrups feel fresh rather than clichéd, LAFAWNDAH's vocals contributing to the steamy effect.
By contrast, "JUNGLE EXIT" feels underworked, the sing-song vocals, whooping synths and tumbling rhythms never quite jelling. "BUTTER" is more effective, with a sparse rhythmic arrangement beautifully offset by the earworming central melody and half-spoken vocals. That she sounds as though she's singing outside her range undermines the song's power somewhat, but it's an enjoyable ride nevertheless.
01. JUNGLE EXIT
04. TANGO DOWN