REVIEW: Brika – “Voice Memos”

I have to give credit where credit is due here. I was in the car listening to 88Nine RadioMilwaukee when I discovered Brika’s “Expectations”. I immediately scanned it on SoundHound to figure out who it was, and then went right to listening to the album as soon as possible. Here’s what I thought about it:

The intro is one of the first “memos” carrying only dates as titles. After that, single “Expectations” is the first real chance for you to experience Brika’s voice, as well as overall sound. In a word, her voice is jazzy, to say the least. The addition of dub-like synths and some well layered double-ups on her vocals only sweetens the pot. This song alone is enough to get you hooked on her. Interestingly, another memo follows this song, which makes for a slightly choppy flow to the beginning of the album. However, that memo is followed by the more upbeat, yet still minimal “Options”. Make no mistake, Brika’s sound is centered around her great vocal talent, with the other instruments only acting as accents. With her voice, though, it’s well deserved that songs are crafted with her as the focal point.

The background production picks up on “Overtime”, with Vaudeville-like piano licks and the albums first synthetic drumbeat. You can even hear an old-time projector in the background. While that seems a bit cheesy on paper, it’s actually a great compliment to the track. Well done. The center of this section in between memos is “Gold”. This is another single, with a very summer sound to it. With lots of club-like elements, this is a dance track that builds as it progresses. I could see that song helping break Brika’s name to a lot of people.

The second half of the album begins with “Moon”, another minimalist track that livens up as it comes to a close. Distorted vocals and percussion compliment the spacey track (see what I did there?), and the mood is conveyed well. “Mumbai” is the last track before another memo, and Brika shines over a track with a very worldly feel to it. Again, the layered voices add another dimension to the sound, and it perfectly caps off this section before a memo about people’s err, intentions for what they would like to do.

“Go” features a collaboration with rapper Bogart, and the two compliment each other well. Sonically, Bogart sounds very much like Wiz Khalifa, but the content of his verses far surpass those of the Wiz. This is one of the few tracks where the beat overtakes Brika’s vocal talent, but perhaps that’s necessary. This is followed by “Demons”, a ballad where Brika is accompanied by a piano, and an atmospheric pulse that pulls you into her performance even more. It should be noted that these aren’t particularly long songs; many come in just under three minutes long, but in that time, Brika encompasses you.

We have another memo, which sets up “Tetris”, the last non-memo track on the song. The memos, in their own right, help you get a further understanding of Brika as an artist. You get to hear what sounds like the very earliest demos of songs, and get an insight into the craft of the song. “Tetris” is one of those instances, as it goes from a vocal melody to an 808 filled electronic track, complete with a haunting reversed section. The album finishes with a memo called “Crazy”, and we get one last jazzy melody from Brika. One thing is for certain, this isn’t the last you’ll hear of her. She’s defintely got the talent to take things to another level, and this is a fitting introduction. Check out “Voice Memos” below: