Ibeyi: Ibeyi review – impressive but limited experimental soul

(XL)

French-Cuban twin sisters Ibeyi have been dubbed “doom soul”, and form a kind of gloomy triptych alongside two other recent XL signees, techno producer Powell and grime MC Vocalist. The doom soul moniker is a slight misnomer; the themes that run through their eponymous debut LP are mysticism and Yoruba spirituality (their name means twins in the Nigerian language). After opening track Ellegua – a haunting Santería prayer – and Oya, which is reminiscent of Volta-period Björk, there’s an expectation of further experimentation and exploration. The problem is that the twins only seem to have one pace – and, like XL’s blue-eyed funk band Jungle, that wears thin over a whole album. After the early high points of Oya and River, there’s a string of low-slung tracks – Think of You, Stranger/Lover and Mama Says – that operate within the same tight parameters: haunting vocals, melancholy lyrics and a boom-bap backing track. As stand-alone tracks they work, but side-by-side, you can’t help but wish they’d try something outside this comfort zone.

Contributor

Lanre Bakare

The GuardianTramp

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