Villainess is the debut album by Jessi Frey in her solo music career, and was released on August 23, 2019, following four successful singles that came out earlier this year. The album features nine songs in the synthpop and darkwave genres.
The album opens with Dark Heart, which has a dark and heavy beat in the verses, and bursts into a powerful chorus. This song is great for dancing and is an earworm for sure! The lyrics speak to me of the pleasure felt from the love, adoration and desire of another person, as if it was an addiction. In the second half of the song is a lightly sung but menacing declaration, “I will never be yours,” which exposes the cruel intention to torment the other to continue feeding this addiction.
The next song, The Blue Pill, was my favourite from among the singles released in advance of the album. The hypnotic synth melody pulls you into the song right from the start, and Jessi’s soft and beautiful vocals enhance the mesmerizing quality of the song. The concept of the lyrics is a love song from The Matrix’s Agent Smith to the individuals within the simulation. It’s another fantastic dance song, and it will easily get stuck in your head.
The third song is the title track, Villainess. The drums in the song are the stand out element for me, next to the vocal melody. The lyrics speak to me of desperation that broke a woman, and turned her into a demanding, manipulative villainess. The fast tempo and strong beat makes this the best dance song on the album, and I’d love to hear a remix of it designed for the clubs.
Up next is Rich Happy Hot, a very fun song! It starts off like a lullaby accompanied by a dark beat. The melodic vocals in the chorus are dreamy and lead into the title being repeated like a mantra.
I Want to Be Evil is the fifth track, and it has a dark electronic beat, and rhythmic vocals in the verses and chorus. The lyrics explore many creative ways to accomplish the goals of being evil, and more. The outro is stunning because the lyrics wind down with very melodic vocals.
Kill Them With Kindness is a dark dance track that has a distinctly pop intro. Dreamy vocals in the verses lead into a strong and melodic chorus that played on in my head long after I heard it. The lyrics remind me of so many times I took a little dark pleasure from being the better person in certain conflicts. The intro’s pop style vocal melody is repeated later, and there’s a certain humour in it for sure. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s part of the song I could’ve gone without. For me, it didn’t flow with the darker tone of the song that really appealed to me.
Up next is All Monsters Are Human, that was the fourth single released before the album, and is currently her most popular track on Spotify. It’s another dark dance song, featuring hypnotic and melodic vocals. I appreciate that the lyrics make you think, and for me it speaks of acceptance and empathy for a former love, ones own self, and even the human condition. There are several other interpretations possible for this song, so I’ll leave it to you to discover its message for yourself.
Addict Nation has hard, industrial sounding music, with an irresistible beat and rhythmic vocals in the verses. This song has another beautiful, melodic chorus that really demonstrates Jessi’s incredible range of vocal expression. I also loved the grittier sound of this song. While The Blue Pill was my favourite single from the album, this song is my absolute favourite song from the album that I definitely see myself listening to for years to come.
The album concludes with In These Shoes? This song features soft vocals almost whispering gently and telling an intimate story, accompanied by dark synths and higher, more delicate notes sprinkled throughout, in all the right places.
This is an excellent album, full of energy and good spirit. The lyrics are as creative as the music, and I love that you can hear that she’s smiling when she sings. The playful nature of the songs, combined with Jessi’s immense talent with composing and singing, has resulted in one of the best synthpop albums I’ve heard. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you buy a copy of Villainess from your favourite online music retailer, or add it to your library on Spotify.
Review written by:
October 13, 2019