Could Nilüfer Yanya be our next Miss Universe?

Nilüfer Yanya Miss UniverseEagle eyed readers will recognise Nilüfer Yanya's name from coverage in the music media around the end of last year: notably she featured on the 405's Ones to Watch list and prior to that enjoyed heavy rotation on Vevo and MTV. Now it's time to see if her self assured singles - amongst them DrunkenWerewolf favourites "Heavyweight Champion of the Year" and "Baby Luv" - stand up to the test on a full length.

As an innovative new force, Yanya is worthy of the hunky lifeguard her splash demands. Her most obvious asset is her voice: part way between a Brit Pop dream, the hiccup of no wave revival pioneer Ill Ease and her own trademark falsetto; melodically she also has something of St Vincent about her. It's an intriguing, unique formula and one that's likely to win the London singer fans very quickly... Especially as she finds herself rubbing shoulders with more generic pop upstarts like L Devine and Jade Bird. Nothing wrong with their style; it's just a relief to find a UK artist bringing something new to the scene.


Catching onto the wellbeing trend (also recently sported by Childcare) Miss Universe is underpinned by a fake organisation, WWAY Health, and a voice over that warns of face-melting activities if rules are not obeyed. The Stepford Wives paranoia occasionally finds its way into Yanya's songwriting and tracks like "In Your Head" echo the social, physical and economic anxieties of anyone normal in 2019. However, the theme in the music isn't strong enough to pull everything together; coupled with the Yanya's late-90s youth club aesthetic and beauty queen promotional material, the message is confusing.

Straining to hear the connection removes from the upfront, grunge-tinted and adrenaline fuelled songwriting, so you can't help but feel it's better to present Miss Universe as a straightforward set of songs. This album comes out of the capital of a disillusioned country, and from a woman who's trying to work out where she fits in. If for nothing else, it's worthy of your time.

Release: 22nd March 2019, ATO Records


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