Artistic and political life are inseparable in 2018, and it simply wouldn’t do to release a pop record that doesn’t address the state of the world. At least that is the manifesto for ‘I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life’, the fourth record from eclectic songstress Tune-Yards.
While the politics of global struggle have been present in her music for some time (Water Fountain, Nikki Nack), her latest offering is more concerned with the act of self-examination. How should white people navigate their privilege in a racially oppressive landscape? What motivates activism in the face of total adversity? The role of the culture maker as political body is explored with nuance across a record which, despite these heavy topics, is chock-full of dance pop anthems.
ABC 123 encompasses the tonal dissonance on the album more broadly. Vocals and percussion evoke dance hall celebrations, full of rhythmic and expressionistic movements, alongside descriptions of boiling red skin, ‘white centrality’, and global dissention.
Heart Attack works similarly, with a harmonic nod to the current trend of jazz reharmonisation (especially in NYC), and paired with upbeat rhythmic lines and biting lyrics. The bombast subsides momentarily as Garbus mournfully pleas ‘I’m only human / I’m only human’. Blink and you’ll miss the desperation for self-forgiveness, compassion, and care, before being hurdled back into the anxiety-ridden cyclone of catchy self-deprecation.
Elsewhere, Look At Your Hands is an upbeat call for personal contemplation, for one to look at their hands and consider the impact of what lies within. Whether it’s money, technology, weapons, or banal consumeristic products, the song draws attention to the impact of individual consumption on the wider political and environmental landscape. And does so with a rhythm track which could have been lifted straight out of an ‘80s chart dance anthem.
‘I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life’ certainly lies on the extreme end of the political-pop spectrum, exploring relentless self-scrutiny and furious honesty. The result could have been jarring, exhausting, one of those records that you visit from time to time because it’s ‘important’, but thankfully these tracks are just as concerned with being fun to listen to as they are with social commentary. It’s okay to enjoy surface level pop tunes, but it is all the more satisfying when the well runs as deep as this.