Visual artist Niff Nawor’s solo project Riki is exactly what you want a debut to be: it’s bristling with energy and ideas; it reminds you of Kate Bush; some of it is in German. Nawor’s history of anarcho-punk in the Bay Area is filtered through these echoing chords and bright synth flicks, and the result is so, so much fun. It smells like vintage Grimes with none of the unfortunate Elon Musk. Lead single ‘Napoleon’ (a club anthem with a chamber pop sound) is a perfect example of the power of sound design and good mixing – every element from the bass to the lead is distinctive and will get stuck in your head.
Expansive pads and slick stabbing synths make up the majority of the album, well noted ‘Bose Lugen (Body Mix)’ and ‘Know’, but they’re so well crafted and varied that they never sound repetitive. The album starts with this sugary hammer of classic new wave cuts, but as it goes on Riki tries different experiments, with similar success – ‘Spirit of Love’ and ‘Monumental’ are slower ballads but Nawor couldn’t be dull if she tried. This debut is superb on account of being so fun and, in fact, something beautiful.