She burst out of Adelaide, not much older than 15 years old, with a song named after a dinosaur, so it’s fair to say that the debut album from a now 20-year-old Tkay Maidza was never going to be an overtly serious lyrical affair.
Though there was potential for more hitting vocal content through the title track from her 2014 EP Switch Lanes, for the most part Maidza has been praised for her overall sound, combining solid production with light, witty delivery to produce party-ready anthems.
With all of this in mind, this new 14-track affair is everything you can expect. Containing pure dance-movers, hip-hop tinged electronics and fiery rapping delivery, you’ll spend more time moving your feet than you will analysing the subject matter.
Opening with the grime-reminiscent Always Been, the initial sparseness of the booming bass soon changes into double time, with random percussive clicks and rapid diction from Maidza. We slow down into the clunky beat of Afterglow with a falsetto chorus and a worldly element in the abstract backing vocals and a hooky chorus. Killer Mike of Run The Jewels fame shoots a stellar verse through on Carry On, with the line “baby keep it cool / it’s the first day of school / knowing you a rebel and about to the break the rules,” only affirming the school-girl-like chorus chanted by Maidza. Fourth track Simulation sounds like another summer dancehall-rehash that Justin Bieber and Diplo forgot about, easily and quickly outshone by Tennies with its pulsating continuous beat and simplistic yet superbly catchy chorus, repeating “you don’t wanna start it / you don’t wanna put me on / you don’t wanna start it / when I put my tennies on.”
Things take a sudden detour into house music with sixth track Monochrome, with its fat, continuous warping melody and distorted vocal back-up, however it’s backed up by Follow Me, the most obvious choice for the chopping block as it comes across as a half-soaked time-filler. We continue with Castle In The Sky, with Maidza singing, “It’s like we are the rolling stones / and it’s a battle of the ages / our dreams are made of flesh off bones / guarding our fortress from the dangers,” across production that sounds like a Flume off-cut. Ninth track Drumsticks No Guns sounds like the cousin of hit U-Huh, as a fun, bouncy pop ditty, with cute, playful adlibs and a school-kid like hook that completely overshadows any serious message behind the track. The timing switch ups in next track State Of Mind makes for an interesting listen too, but it’s by this point that you’re left wondering what else could possibly have made this album. A throwaway trap-inspired track House Of Cards, it seems; plus flashy, synth-driven, self-motivator Supasonic, You Want with its flowing, RnB inspired melody and another hitting rap verse and finally album closer At Least I Know with a grounding piano undertone, that adds to the build up of an understated beat and self-vindicating lyrical content.
This album could have been cut down by at least three tracks, but for the most part, the variation in electronic styles on this record is refreshing. You’re often left not quite knowing what to expect next, but when you do get into each track, often you happen be so enthralled by the diverse production that the lyrical content of Maidza’s songs seems completely overshadowed.
The conclusion is simple: Take this album for what it is, a punchy, eclectic mix of dance floor bangers, and the sassy, yet playful rhetoric of a home-grown star on the rise.
‘TKAY’ is out today.