Embracing bold energy and vibrancy
Classically trained artist, songwriter and composer Laura Mvula dropped an album full of fun, ’80s pop era sounds titled Pink Noise. Based on Mvula’s discography throughout her time in the industry, this project was a chance to break out of her comfort zone, as she’s mainly gained experience in jazz/neo-soul and gospel groups. Not many British women uphold ’80s-dance-pop, other than Dua Lipa, and especially not many Black British women. However, Pink Noise is a testimonial that anyone can do anything they want.
“Conditional,” the second track of the album, speaks of a desire for unconditional love and feeling tired of receiving affection that comes with regulations. Her choice of singing in a deeper tone with loud percussion hugging her vocals symbolizes frustration and yearning at the same time.
Dazzling with a blingy, ’80s diva feel, “Church Girl” is reminiscent of a song that would play in movies like Sixteen Candles or Dirty Dancing. Lyrics like, “How can you dance with the devil on your back,” and the shifting gears of the chorus make it clear this track is meant to tell a story. In a conversation with Rolling Stone, Mvula described “Chruch Girl” as a release of the version of herself that she’s created in her mind. “I’m coming home to myself beyond the realm of form. I am not the thoughts in my head, or the things I achieve, or the shape of my haircut. I no longer “dance with the devil” on my back. I’m basking in the light of knowing my true self.”
“Remedy” starts off with one strong word that is a pedestal of its message: “Listen.” Although it is filled with playful pop chords and Mvula’s carefree, dance vocals, this song has a very real story to tell. “How many more must die/ Can you hear all my people cry/ Render me ‘dangerous human in your eyes/ ’I can’t breathe,’ the final curtain call.” These lyrics speak of the unjust treatment that the Black community has become accustomed to while paying tribute to the death of George Floyd. The fun tone serves as a bit of a distraction towards this message, and it could’ve best been told with a deeper tone that still incorporates pop.
Switching up the feel from fun to sensual, “Magical” describes the loving memories of a past relationship, like Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time.” Mvula’s voice sounds as if it’s gliding across a dance floor under a direct spotlight, mixed with sexy guitar chords, heavy background instruments and melodic harmonies.
Mvula expresses her evolution and self-growth once again in “Golden Ashes.” She describes this song as her cry for help when she suffered in silence and that she needed a space to express her woes in this album. The second to last song, “Got Me,” serves the same purpose of letting go and evolving. Growing up singing in gospel groups, Mvula held onto the idea of innocence and purity all of her life. However, it eventually contributed to her lost sense of self as she upheld it to appease others. “Got Me,” with its sensual references in its lyrics and a hypnotic instrumental, liberates the little innocent girl that limited her so that the real her no longer had to hide.
Pink Noise is a long-awaited, relatable album of rebirth, letting go and evolution as an adult. Channeling artists like Janet Jackson and Grace Jones, Mvula carries out the ’80s fun and sensual tone effortlessly. It not only showcases her growth as an artist but also her mental and emotional growth as an individual. Each track of this project serves its own purpose, just as Mvula has learned what purpose she will serve in life.