NIKI – ‘Nicole’ Album Review

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NIKI’s latest album, Nicole, is out now, and fans old and new are absolutely in love with it, for good reason.

NIKI

Indonesian singer-songwriter NIKI is making listeners everywhere cry. Plain and simple. Her album Nicole is only her second studio album, but that does nothing to discredit the fact that the artist is an amazing lyricist and storyteller.

niki nicole album cover

In an interview with Billboard, NIKI talks about how releasing Nicole was inspired by Taylor Swift’s releasing Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Straying from her pop, indie, R&B feel she’s developed for the past few years, NIKI returns to her roots with slower melodies and guitar-heavy instrumentals. She brings back the Nicole Zefanya who made alternative pop, folk pop, and ballads. All the songs on the 12-track album talk about the heartbreak she felt before, during, and after a tough breakup.

In the Billboard interview, NIKI discusses how making Nicole involved a lot of introspection and self-understanding. She says, “Even though I’m like, ‘I would never write that line now,’ shifting the perspective of, ‘Well, that was authentically where you were when you were 17,’ is very freeing.”

niki Nicole photoshoot Alex harper
Photo Credit: Alex Harper

The three singles she released before the album—“Before,” “Oceans & Engines,” and “High School in Jakarta”—are all part of a short film she and her team shot in just five days. The short film, But I’m Letting Go, is available now on Amazon Prime.

niki Nicole photo shoot Alex harper
Photo Credit: Alex Harper

The 88rising artist was set to perform at the annual Head in the Clouds Festival this year. However, she unfortunately caught COVID-19 and had to miss out. Fans know, though, that she’ll only come back bigger and better next year.

‘Nicole’

Half of the songs on Nicole are re-recordings of songs NIKI had uploaded back when she had her old YouTube channel. That fact alone is incredible, as the lyrics in her songs are full of clever rhymes, enjambment, and heartfelt, relatable emotions.

niki nicole Alex harper photoshoot
Photo Credit: Alex Harper

All 12 songs stand out, though. From “Autumn” with its “I must’ve thanked my lucky stars too much / They left me sitting in too much dust / You know all my dreams, you were one, so it seemed” to “On the Drive Home” with its “The cold-bloodеd bodies quick on their feet / Will tell you how to еarn your stripes / And you’ll be listening while / I sit here with glistening eyes / As the stripes on my back chip and dry.”

niki high school in jakarta

In the third single, “High School in Jakarta,” NIKI depicts how she met, fell in love with, and fought with an ex. “High School in Jakarta” has a nostalgic feel in both the music video and the song itself. NIKI begins the last chorus with a jab: “High school in Jakarta, American summer / Had no chance against the Marxist girl with marijuana / I was your piñata, she was a star-charter / Glad she gave it to you real hard, but I loved you harder.” The song is much more upbeat than the other songs on Nicole. However, clearly the melody and rhythms are no indication of the meaning.

The lyricism in NIKI’s songs is proof enough that song lyrics can be poetry. Check out the lyric videos for each song here.

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