Aisha Badru lulls you to sleep, then jolts you awake.
Listening to her latest album, Pendulum, is like floating down a quiet stream with occasional (and very steep) drops. Similar to British indie duo Oh Wonder, the use of background instrumental is minimal. The native New Yorker’s wispy voice is perfectly capable of carrying poignant lyrics on its through thirteen tracks of trance-worthy etherealness. The result? Perfect rainy-day music that probably reserves a spot on a “chill” Spotify playlist somewhere.
It also ends up being so much more.
The opening track, Mind on Fire, sets the tone for how the rest of the record plays out. The even innocence of Badru’s voice initially creates the assumption this is an album without edge or, really, without any substance. Then, suddenly, Badru delivers “And she didn’t give a fuck on who she offended.”
Suddenly listeners are called to attention into doing just that: listening. Badru peppers her songs with left-fielder lyrics that expose her music to be more than dulcet tones and quasi-monotony. She creates an easily-digestible story of swinging from one place in life to the next (that whole pendulum metaphor) and doing so gracefully. Mind on Fire starts from a bystander’s perspective looking for that fiery idealist that set out one day to change the world. The tone then shifts into Bridges, where Badru proclaims that no matter what the distance or what kind of scars there are, she’ll remain loyally by her love’s side. It’s all of Badru’s life unraveling from three-minute ballads.
The only mis-fire on the album is Waiting. The tempo picks up midway through the album with a rapid staccato beat. It feels out of place when compared with the rest of the album; the sudden use of multiple instruments feels almost intrusive in an otherwise quiet, moody album. As a single Waiting works just fine, but within the cool confines of Pendulum it interrupts the flow rather than assists.
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On the whole, Aisha Badru’s Pendulum is worth the listen. They tracks exude the cool voyeurism in which is Miss Badru’s perspective: she’s seen this fiery girl and loved this love. Each story comes together in a tone that is altogether at peace. As Aisha herself says right off her site:
“I hope Pendulum opens a window that allows my listeners to see how the dark and light aspects of life form a marriage that serves as a catalyst that initiates tremendous growth.”
So pull out that fleece blanket and turn down the lights: time to let Pendulum show you how things grow.
‘Pendulum’ out now via Nettwerk Records