You would possibly assume the Chilean pop chameleon Mon Laferte, however permit her to reintroduce herself. The 40-year-old artist’s greatest work revolves round grief-stricken ballads—the sort you would possibly blast in your despair dungeon whereas surrounded by smelly laundry and soiled dishes. Her movies and costumes have evoked the glamour of pin-up ladies and rockabilly up-dos. However anybody who has tried to pin down Laferte to a singular mode has been sorely mistaken: She has experimented with SoCal folk-pop (2021’s 1940 Carmen), gloomy cumbia (2018’s Norma), and craving boleros (many songs on 2017’s La Trenza).
Her new album Autopoiética is a refusal of stasis by an artist now 20 years into her profession: “I’m an enormous bitch, star machine, microparticles subdivided into interspatial nanoparts,” she quips on “40 y MM,” breaking down her ineffability. Autopoiesis, a time period coined by Chilean biologists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana within the Seventies, describes the cyclical self-maintenance of cells; Laferte adopts the scientific vernacular as a metaphor for the infinite redefinition of self as she strays from nostalgic idioms and dabbles in pummeling dance-punk and soiled perreo. She lampoons anybody who tries to outline her by fastened gender roles—“Not a magnificence queen/Not a whore nor a princess”—whereas asserting her personal pleasure: “Préndele Fuego” is a babymaking bossa nova tune the place Laferte sings of the thrill of sitting on her companion’s face and getting fingered on the dancefloor. In her phrases, this album is for the MILFs, maestras, and “hardcore señoras.”
One of the thrilling left turns is “No+Unhappy,” an antidepressant dosed with 4o milligrams of goth reggaeton. Over blaring sirens and a spiky dembow riddim that rumbles beneath her vocals, Laferte appears to deal with the vitriol she’s confronted as a cultural agitator. She snubs the haters who insult her “saggy breasts” and label her a communist, feminazi, and “cheesy fucking bitch” (“pinche naca”), rehashing this slander in a coy whisper. It’s one among three songs on the album the place she speaks in hushed tones, as a substitute of reprising the maximalist vocal performances she’s recognized for. If something, her phrases are extra arresting when murmured. In the meantime, “Tenochtitlan” and “40 y MM” illustrate Laferte’s love of Portishead, wading within the mellow tempos and ethereal vocals of ’90s trip-hop to inform a transferring story about her immigration journey and eager for creative freedom—one other stylistic journey.
Nonetheless, not the whole lot feels recent. “Mew Shiny” is an old-school ballad, harking back to basic rock, that teeters on cloying sentimentality, one of many report’s weakest moments. Fortunately, Laferte adorns among the conventional songs with intelligent adornments and sharp reversals. At first look, “Pornocracia” is a bolero intercourse jam, however a second studying reveals it as a rebuff of an objectifying companion. “Casta Diva” is an orchestral epic that interpolates the Nineteenth-century Italian opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, accompanied by a divine string part and a macabre church choir. Within the last minute, a thunderous growth and a gradual dembow riddim crash into the manufacturing. Laferte’s voice, as soon as the embodiment of seraphic bliss, short-circuits into unintelligible digital glitch.
Whereas a few of Laferte’s earlier work verged on pure nostalgia, Autopoiética transcends mere reverence for the previous. The selection appears good on her. Autopoiética challenges anybody who dared to relegate Laferte to late-career stagnation: She insists on boundless transformation.