Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2018-10-19
Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics
Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics

With almost 40 years under her belt as an artist, Neneh Cherry has experienced a bit of a resurgence lately. Back in 2012, she collaborated with The Thing for a jazzy exploration cleverly titled The Cherry Thing, and two years later she was back with her first proper studio album since 1996’s Man with Blank Project, produced by electronic maestro Four Tet. The results were stellar. Cherry’s dabbled in post-punk from her early days, jazz, and most recently trip-hop – a genre dominated by Portishead and Massive Attack.

What’s made Cherry’s trip-hop ventures so successful is her pertinent concatenations of human struggle. She’s 54 years old now, and been to the top of the mainstream charts, but now feels most at home making the music that speaks to her more. Incorporating piano, hip-hop, dance, and those post-punk strands, Broken Politics launches the listener into Cherry’s soulful world that she’s built within her psyche. “Fallen Leaves” opens the album and likens her experiences to that of fallen leaves – bird shit, getting stepped on, and her words unfurl in colorful beats as she “comes undone in the fabric of our dreams.”

“Kong” was the early single before an album announcement. It’s a modern trip-hop classic right off the bat, thumping, cymbal crashing, mixed with the piano – it’s what we’d expect from Portishead these days, but then we get Cherry’s quivering vocals to elevate it. All of Broken Politics works because of this juxtaposition that Cherry has perfected since her last outing. Blank Project is one of the best records from 2014, but Broken Politics capitalizes on the themes and elements that made that record a success. Four Tet is back and produces some of his best beats and strings since his 2010 classic There Is Love In You.

Broken Politics is obviously a political record, anyone mistaken by the title should probably skip this. But Cherry’s brought all her influences and experiences together for a truly incredible experience. It’s a bit more toned down than some of the other trip-hop classics. Its beats are methodical, paced, but compliment her vocals like on “Synchronised Devotion” as she sings “It’s my broken politics living in the slow jam,” Four Tet taps the keys softly, bringing her piercing lyrics front and centered. Its elegant and painful at the same time, as any forward-thinking individual should be able to relate to Cherry here. And while Cherry is Swedish, the album isn’t a reflection on U.S. politics, but politics as a whole across the globe. “Natural Skin Deep” is the centerpiece banger, featuring futuristic synths, bongos, and jittery lyrics by Cherry and a thumping chorus, “My love goes on and on, try baby, take it on.”

The 90s R&B infused “Shot Gun Shack” has all the necessary cool to get one moving, and it’s more effective with Cherry’s lyricism doting on escapism. “Black Monday” beholds some of Cherry’s most inviting vocals and string plucking, but “Slow Release” takes things down a notch in a pleasant way. Broken Politics is one of the more straight forward trip-hop records in recent memory, and it’s because Cherry’s vocals are so prominent and direct. By the time “Soldier” closes out the album, we’re left with the notion that Cherry’s a bit disenfranchised, but still desires to push on. This sentiment runs throughout the whole album and is probably how many of us feel about the current state of affairs. On Broken Politics, Cherry hones in on a lot of the insecurities everyone faces today no matter what side of the pond they are on. It’s brutal at times, honest, and reflective.

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I didn't know this was produced by Four Tet. Interesting choice. I liked her forays into free jazz, no doubt inspired by her uncle, Don Cherry, but as you've said she has many more flags on her mast. Good album.

Comment was last edited about 4 years ago by Rob Taylor Rob Taylor
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Oh I see, it was actually The Cherry Thing.

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