The release strategy chosen for Australian hip-hop duo Jackie Onassis’ Pristine Alley was certainly a risky one: Rather than keeping fans waiting, they followed in Beyoncé’s footsteps and dropped the entire album without prior promotion. While it could be a potential nightmare from a PR standpoint, the lack of hyped expectations means it’s easier to simply sit and enjoy the album; viewing it with minimal expectations clouding your perception. Even if the early release hadn’t happened, however, it’s doubtful that it would have negatively affected the album. There’s definitely a lot to admire about Pristine Alley.
The album is rooted in a hip-hop sound thick with spacey synth work, elevated to a more accessible level with its use of melodic pop hooks and production tricks that add a complementary element to their sound. The pop styling is most apparent in the bubbling, bright melodic synths that define the aptly titled Bubbles and the euphoric, spiraling high-speed melodies of DNGAF, both of which use the pop hook factor to full effect in comparison to the rest of the album’s slightly less forthright approach. When the pop factor drops low, however, tracks makes good use of piano lines—such as on the preceding single MIA and the new track Live Good—to spice things up.
The album balances the hip-hop and pop elements perfectly, never moving too close to one or the other. It gives the album a clear identity—one that feels like a distinct evolution from the more familiar hip-hop of their previous EPs—and in turn positions the album to equally appeal to more than just hip-hop fans. It isn’t without its weaker moments, such as the unnecessary guest feature on Bad and the penultimate trap track Thaaas Riiigh, but these are but a slight mark on the overall experience of the album.
As an overall package, Pristine Alley showcases the style of Jackie Onassis perfectly. The melodies and arrangements on the album are almost always top notch, and their style is one that will appeal to pop and hip-hop fans alike. The almost clean slate the album was released on, thanks to the surprise release, definitely made for a very positive initial reaction. But even without the release gimmick, there’s no doubt that Pristine Alley would have shone just as bright.