Blastoma, Ngaiire’s second album just radiates confidence. Her debut album, Lamentations was acclaimed in some circles, but didn’t achieve the kind of exposure she obviously wanted. Blastoma on the other hand, is filled with songs just begging to break out and find success. From the pulsing electronics of the opening track, to the closing gospel anthem, Ngaiire sounds completely at home.
Said opening track, Anchor is a supremely strong introduction to the “future soul” world Ngaiire inhabits. Over throbbing percussion and sweet keyboards, she sings a soaring melody – “I’m an anchor / like a ship tied down” – that feels incredibly emotional. Pre-release single Once is similarly strong, coasting on a nervous synth pulse in its verses, and sombre piano chords in the chorus. The instrumental is fairly sparse, which leaves lots of space for Ngaiire’s smooth vocals. She sings about unconditional love, but with a sense of maturity and consideration – “and if we did it a million / and if we did it for love / we didn’t do it enough”. You can hear the warmth and tenderness in her voice, and she infuses the lyrics with emotion that the words can’t necessarily do alone.
The most fun track on the album (and the one with the highest tempo) is Diggin, also released as a single. The song displays a masterful control of tension and release, with the repetitive guitar picking leading into the chorus building palpable anticipation, and the explosion of feeling in the high note that concludes said chorus – “but you found me diggin up the perfect grave / and now you wanna stay”. It’s a supremely fun track, but it also stands out from the rest of the album because its much faster and more energetic than most of the other 8 tracks.
Tracks like I Wear Black are wonderful on their own, but there’s just too many songs that rely on the same tense, mid-tempo hip-hop styling. Many Things and Cruel, whilst aesthetically consistent with the rest of the songs, don’t do enough to distinguish themselves, and are left feeling superfluous in the wider tracklist. Nonetheless, Blastoma is a very strong work from a very promising artist, and with tracks as strong as Once and Diggin, it’s likely that Ngaiire will go far.