Say She She: Prism review – boundary-busting discodelic soul

(Karma Chief)
The Brooklyn trio conspire to produce an idiosyncratic album that ranges from drum-machine funk to small-hours sublimity

You can imagine Brooklyn-based trio Say She She’s “discodelic soul” fitting neatly into New York’s early-80s post-punk, post-disco world. That’s not to say that their sound is self-consciously retro – in fact, there’s something very 2022 about its warm, lo-fi, bedroom pop-adjacent production – more to suggest that, as with a lot of artists of the early 80s scene, there’s something appealingly idiosyncratic and boundary-busting about their sound. It stirs together everything from budget electronics to soft Philly soul and the echoing space of dub and tops it off with beautiful vocal harmonies: all three members – London-born Piya Malik and Americans Nya Parker Gazelle and Sabrina Cunningham – started out as classical singers.

The artwork for Prism.
The artwork for Prism Photograph: PR handout

A little less spiky than their singles Forget Me Not and Norma, which were inspired by feminist activists the Guerrilla Girls and the overturning of Roe v Wade, respectively, Prism offers an embarrassment of fabulous songs. Pink Roses deals with grief via spindly bargain-basement disco. The title track throws up off-centre, drum-machine-driven funk – if you want a recherché comparison, its rhythm vaguely recalls Voggue’s post-disco hit Dancin’ the Night Away – while the beatless, weightless closer, Better Man, is an exercise in small-hours sublimity.

Say She She: Prism – video

It’s striking how commercial Say She She’s songwriting could be, at least in theory: it’s easy to picture a more straightforward R&B artist turning the lovely Don’t Wait into a mainstream hit. But the brief Prism is more than good enough as it is: off in its own world, slightly left-of-centre, a delightful place to visit for half an hour.


Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

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