35-year-old British singer Laura Mvula recently unveiled Pink Noise, his third studio album. A collection of ten titles and, above all, a dive into the 80s, a musically very prosperous decade marked by artists like Prince and Michael Jackson who reached, at that time, the height of their glory in the effervescence of synthesizers, crazy looks and glitter. This opus sounds like a nostalgic and sparkling breath of air against a backdrop of bewitching pop.
”Pink Noise” Laura Mvula
Laura Mvula’s label is not the same anymore. She takes us back to another decade and her method of writing, which once sought to please without offending is, this time, frank and liberated. A fertile and formative metamorphosis since it reveals Pink Noise, his new album, which takes a totally different direction: that of the R’n’B-pop of the 1980s, using synthesizers brilliantly. And, listening to it, we almost want to find the auto-reverse Walkman cassette, symbol of an unfortunately past. There are references to legendary songs from the 80s, the airs of Michael Jackson and Prince subtly spring up behind the voice of the British singer. “This is the album I always wanted to make. Every corner is warmed by tones of 80s sunsets. I was born in 1986. I came out of the womb with shoulder pads. I absorbed the dynamism of the aesthetics of the 80s from my first moments on this planet ” says the 35-year-old singer in Charts in France. She was born in the middle of it like Obelix and his magic potion, and so here she is looking to offer us a small vial rich in omega 80 that revitalizes and perks up.
Native of Birmingham in England, she grew up in the suburbs of Selly Park and Kings Heads. With a father educator of the judicial protection of young people and a mother professor of letters, nothing predestines her to music. However, she cultivated it early and started at the Conservatory from where she graduated in composition a few years later. In 2005, fed to the Girls Band of the 90s (Atomic Kitten, TLC, and Spice Girls), she first joined a training a capella named Black Voices… then three years later formed a jazz group called Judyshouse where she sang and composed most of the pieces. She falls in love with singer Themba Mvula, gets married and delivers, at 27, a first album Sing to the Moon (2013), whose echo is resounding. And for good reason, thanks to her powerful soul voice offering a delicious musical conglomerate that combines jazz gospel, classical music and pop, she is assigned the leader of a new musical movement called “gospeldelia”…
In 2016, for lack of commercial benefits for his album The Dreaming Room, she is let loose by her label, Sony. “It was so abrupt. It was as if I was told: “You no longer have any value for us”. “They put pressure on me, and I put pressure on myself, to do something new”. “Jhad all these labels in mind. You know, ‘Create your own kind of music, create your own way’ ” she launches in the columns of the New York Times… The time has come to redesign his artistic universe. She signs for a new label, Atlantic, and then anchors her artistic universe in a more narrowly defined environment. The luminous resonances of the 1980s of childhood reappear after taking a few lessons to free up his pen and set up a mini studio in his wardrobe in London. “I decided that I wasn’t going to say, ‘I want to create an orchestral palette with these textures’. I’m not going to get on the keyboard and play all the chords and vocals that I love. I’m not going to play the familiar shapes anymore. I’m just going to play the first thing that comes to me. ” And if the hiatuses – of five years in her case – often have value of introspection to look the world in the face and try to renew itself for the future years, Laura Mvula, she prefers to look at her past. She reveals what she never wanted to confess: her love of synth baselines, grid reverbs, 80s snare drums … in short, everything that makes the aesthetic of eighties.
From the first title, Safe Passage, the syntheses sparkle and the 80’s choirs of Oli Rockberger (artist and producer of the singer) install us in a good film of the time; as Breakfast Club by John Hughes. Indeed, his voice could have served as a musical background for this feature film where mullet cut and varsity jacket dress five teenagers, meeting up in high school, arguing and breaking down to the point that they come to find common ground. Sacred synopsis. But whatever, that’s what the 80s are: cold hedonism where, sometimes, the look is more valuable than the music or the movie itself. These years that snap and sparkle during which everyone shows off between oversized sweatshirts, sequins, XXL shoulder pads, or bandana à la Björn Borg and dance to hip-hop, pop or rap. The more extroverted ones assume a mullet cut, crimped hair, and disparate colors… fuchsia pink and emerald green. There was a time when nothing stopped the demonstratives, not even the idea of sounding like a flavored ticking. In Laura Mvula’s eyes, it is a magnificent period, liberated, uninhibited. It was the singers of this time who served as walking sticks and inspiration. In Church Girl, and Magical (the latter is a lyrical reference to “Purple Rain” by Prince), Laura Mvula guides us to Minneapolis Sound (the hybrid musical genre mixing funk, pop rock) founded by Prince, one of her idols. And, from then on, we remember the Prince of Pop’s ruffled collared shirts, his pants with elephant legs, his heeled boots or his eyes highlighted with Khôl, this mineral powder that gave him such a mysterious air.
And as if no star should be left on the edge of the stage, she does with Got Me, shameless recycling of The Way You Make Me Feel, Michael Jackson’s song. “He wasn’t just the teen idol for me. I inhaled Jackson’s legacy when I was 11 or 12. Everything about history, the desire to make music together as a family, has parallels with me because my two siblings play in my band ” she declares in The List, a small Scottish newspaper. This album, of which the 80s serve as a common thread, is not filled with bland and deceptively daring covers. On the contrary, the singer manages to inhabit them completely to revive the late artists. And we succumb to yet another spoonful of the 80s, seasoned with heady pop.
“Pink Noise” by Laura Mvula, available on all platforms