By Vaughn Turnbull
The sophomore studio album from Los Angeles-based artist Empress Of builds upon the critical success of her 2015 debut and interim dance chart collaborations. The Latin ballad “Trust Me Baby” and radio-friendly dance-pop songs “Love For Me” and “When I’m With Him” led as singles ahead of the release of Us.
The ten tracks embody a dreamy Caribbean island vibe, infused with danceable ’80s synth grooves. Catchy falsetto vocals are reminiscent of electro-pop contemporaries Banks, FKA Twigs and Lorde, but an injection of Spanish lyrics differentiates “Trust Me Baby” and “When I’m With Him.” The first half of the album rolls hazily along at a head-bobbing tempo, creating a perfect pairing with all that legal cannabis, despite what the track titled “I Don’t Even Smoke Weed” suggests.
Love and relationships are the main topics explored, but the lyrics come secondary to the sickly sweet vocals featured prominently throughout. The electronic influences and strong vocal hooks on later tracks seem destined for important plot crescendos in teen TV dramas. Us closes softly with the song “Again,” which brings the energy and tension built over tracks six through nine to a warm, dreamy denouement.Empress Of, Record Review, Us, XL Recordings