Self Esteem: Prioritise Pleasure review – Britain’s funniest, frankest pop star drums out her demons

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Throughout Prioritise Pleasure, her 2nd medium arsenic Self Esteem, Rebecca Taylor searches for a feeling she tin trust on. Her tummy and bosom seldom align. A callous person makes her uncertainty herself. “Casual” texts from an ex evidently conceal ulterior motives. She has to cheque retired emotionally successful bid to climax from a zipless fuck. Marriage and babies don’t appeal, yet different people’s inactive marque her insecure. Even the nostalgia induced by a lukewarm summer’s time tin instrumentality her into self-sabotage.

Pacing these shifting sands is exhausting. But simply by defining them, and acknowledging however mean it is for these contradictory states to coexist (especially successful the lives of women, contorted by fare civilization and dating), Taylor establishes a sturdy consciousness of communal crushed – 1 connected which the makings of a stellar popular 2nd enactment are taking shape.

The artwork for Prioritise Pleasure.
The artwork for Prioritise Pleasure. Photograph: Publicity image

After a decennary successful indie duo Slow Club, successful 2019, Taylor channelled her unabashed popular ambitions into the solo task Self Esteem. Her debut album, Compliments Please, had a thrilling sprawl and showed disconnected a new, uninhibited voice. The signifier sanction was her effort astatine cultivating immoderate wherever it was sorely lacking. With further assistance from a therapist, she said recently, it beauteous overmuch worked. That is abundantly wide from Prioritise Pleasure, an medium wholly assured successful its strange, superb vision: if determination is simply a counterforce to each that instability, Taylor implies, it is successful thing but full-throated expression. During the property campaign, she re-enacted Britney Spears’ infamous 1999 Rolling Stone cover; the cowboy-hatted medium artwork references Music-era Madonna. You get the consciousness she won’t request to formal up arsenic different popular stars for overmuch longer.

Prioritise Pleasure is simply a uncommon big popular medium aft 18 months of comparatively diminutive offerings from header pistillate popular acts. The likes of Taylor Swift, Hayley Williams, Lorde, Billie Eilish and Kacey Musgraves person opted for smaller sounds to telegraph self-acceptance – possibly implying that competing astatine that level is astatine likelihood with uncovering happiness. Peace is hard won, immoderate signifier it takes – and Taylor hasn’t experienced thing similar the vocation pressures they person – but nevertheless it’s emboldening to perceive her uncovering hers successful vastness and noise; successful thundering drums, unabashedly melodramatic strings and immense communal choruses affluent with gospel fervour and popular stickiness.

Those towering elements are twisted by intuitive accumulation (by Taylor and Johan Karlberg of the Very Best) that seems inspired by the gothic sprawl of caller Beyoncé albums, but doesn’t truly dependable similar thing else. On the rubric track, Taylor breathlessly lists her shortcomings implicit a choppy, earthy beat: “I shrunk, moved and changed,” she sings, a authorities of affairs that she instantly defies with a dizzying, moving chorus. Beauty and abrasiveness beryllium broadside by side: Still Reigning dazzles similar a afloat saturated sunrise past cuts out, desolate; How Can I Help You fundamentally interpolates the snarling bushed of Kanye West’s Black Skinhead, which jars against Taylor’s frenzied relationship of her ain pliancy: “Never turn aged / I’ll ever beryllium bedewed / Always beryllium up for it / Politely sit,” she sings successful a spit-flecked chant. It is simply a big, bodily record, its physicality reminiscent of however rhythm, question and interaction are proven ways of reprogramming the brain’s neural pathways successful the attraction of trauma. Taylor flogs the shame out, and fulfils the album’s pleasure-first little successful each this synaptic titillation.

Self Esteem: I Do This All the Time – video

Impressively, standard ne'er comes astatine the disbursal of nuance and existent intimacy. Taylor digs astir successful the humiliating, pathetic bits of a breakup that near her look to look with her flaws. She details her hopeless compulsion to over-explain herself to different people; meantime she’s grasping for a consciousness of self, “out present trying to judge the thought of me”, she sings connected Still Reigning. Taylor is 34 and her words consciousness thoroughly lived in. Barbed, perspicacious, comic and devastating, they evoke the enactment of Mike Skinner, Lily Allen and Alan Bennett if helium spent a spot much clip scrolling an ex’s timeline.

There’s the no-strings hook-up of Hobbies 2 who is “turning your backmost aft checking I came … astatine slightest that’s something”. The self-deprecating Moody is simply a cheerleader chant astir self-destruction that starts: “Sexting you astatine the intelligence wellness speech seems counterproductive.” There’s rage acceptable for large communal chants connected the prickling opener, I’m Fine: “Do you recognize the symptom you origin / When you spot a assemblage conscionable for sport? I tried to fto you down truthful mildly / When I had the close to archer you simply / No.” Moving betwixt belting and conversational styles enriched by her Rotherham accent, Taylor comes disconnected arsenic that gripping barfly who casually gets up to sound retired an Adele opus astatine karaoke and leaves the country gawping.

It each comes unneurotic champion connected I Do This All The Time, which, improbably, melds the power of Arab Strap, Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) and Lisa Stansfield into song-of-the-year material. Taylor reels disconnected her failings (“Don’t nonstop those agelong paragraph texts / Stop it / Don’t”) with despair and existent tenderness, digressing into the conflicting, underhand things men person told her astir herself that marque it harder to basal tall. She is bolstered, again, by her strident choir, who signifier portion of a monolithic strings-drenched crescendo that races towards immoderate imagined, amended future.

Prioritise Pleasure is 1 of those phrases that has go neutered by girlboss culture, slogan mugs and manifold different ways of beneficently letting radical bargain backmost a feeling stolen from them by those aforesaid moneymaking forces. Self-Esteem’s 2nd medium shows that it is ne'er arsenic casual arsenic each that. It’s a powerfully aggravated grounds that immoderate whitethorn recoil from; confrontational and liable to drawback you off-guard arsenic Taylor crisply extracts gutting truths from the wide murk of self-loathing, ne'er sugarcoating grimness nor over-egging her attempts astatine self-affirmation. Despite the imperative contained successful the title, the medium doesn’t preach but invites you in, suggesting pleasance arsenic a corporate imaginativeness calved of shared confidences. It’s remarkable.