One could say Amaarae was properly put on the musical map after the release of her debut album ‘THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW‘ back in 2020. The album was a breakthrough – with its viral lead single ‘SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY’ racking up millions of streams globally.
Since then, Amaarae has sequestered in the studio, joined by her close-knit production team, which includes, KZ Didit, Kyu Steed, and Yves Rothman, taking the time to hone her craft and re-emerge with an even more fearless and limitless sound.
The album cover for Fountain Baby confirms Amaarae’s status as a creative with a diverse vision and someone blooming with aspirations and ideas. On the cover, Amaarae appears to be a dual water sign, and the album’s publicity texts are rife with water analogies that denote and represent the album title vividly and also goes to reflect how she is attracted to both the peace of mind and sustenance it provides.
The album opens with ‘All My Love’, a rendition of soaring strings and orchestral that is shortlived in a time frame of 43 seconds and immediately ushers listeners into the second track on the album- ‘Angels in Tibet’.
On ‘Angels in Tibet’, there’s a projection of intense bassline and piercing percussion, in which she harmonizes breathlessly, “Tell me who you are/is this what you wanted?”
On this track, Amaarae commands the audience and reflects that in verses like “Step into your power, say no more and do your part.” Amaarae’s vocals ring constantly, breaking into rap before fading into a whisper.
Angels in Tibet seduces you with falsettos that lure you in and bass-tone whispers that make you lean even closer; soon, you’re under the hypnotic groove of Amaarae.
A very notable highlight of this album is that Amaarae ensured to project her sense of free will and also confidence in where she belongs and who she is without conforming. We see this in tracks like Tracks 3, 5, and 7. Amaarae challenges listeners to widen their points of view and to place her in spaces she’s found belonging, not where she’s been assigned.
Track 5 – ‘Big Steppa’ works just according to the title, taking large leaps and landing with equivalent bops. The track is sexy and circles around fluttering eyelids punctuated with snapping of the fingers and hips. It’s both a flirtatious tune and a declaration of intent, serving double time as something that looks inward while focused on the many eyes around.
Other tracks like Disguise, Counterfeit, and Sociopathic Dance Queen, explore the facsimiles of personhood and the elasticity of her range.
The former reaches a satisfying and appealing ending to a temporary love, over a fast-tempo perfect for humid house parties. The boundaries are clear in the title but even when shunning social propriety and norms, there’s still a need for great contact, a desire to step out of the box and experience blissful connection no matter how momentary.
It is common knowledge that Amaarae is absolutely grounded when she explores songs that allow her express omnivorous details in her taste and liberal in her exploration, so it’s apparent when she is uncertain.
Water from Wine and Come Home to God which could have been experimental benedictions is set aside as just fillers. This was probably due to a failed attempt to connect religion and its selfless approach to love with the numbing comfort of avoidance.
The first line of the album clearly informs its listeners about the best possible setting for the record to be heard – “In the club,” with her breathy intonations pummeling against a wall of war drums, and it does,t just stop there, For the rest of this album, there are familiar affirmations that ring about female sexuality and shattered gender norms, giving the usual Amaarae style and continuing the themes from her 2020 debut, “The Angel You Don’t Know,” which introduced her to many fans via her first Billboard chart entry, via Kali Uchi’s remix of the album’s “Sad Girlz Luv Money.”
However, Fountain Baby doesn’t sound timeless and it is against the clock as it braces itself for the next wave of pop as voted for by the relentless churn of the internet. It is an album that is perfect for the present; this second record will be a reminder of a time in space but might not travel past the barriers of 2023. Fountain Baby is perfect timing as there is a current wave of sounds like this one being acceptable by fans around the world.
Fountain Baby feels like a statement and an urgent response from Amaarae this time. There is a ‘desperation’ in her mission to be understood, and a hands-on process to her world-building, that although rigid in some instances, is charged with proclamations of individuality.
It’s an assuredness she wants to transmit, a challenge to skip from one phase to another, carving our identities around each one so they fail to define all perimeters, and also become as malleable as the softest dough that has ever existed in a baker’s hands, as accurate as a horoscope that makes the most sense on the most important day. It all belongs in the box. Everything just fits.
In summary: Amaarae’s Fountain Baby is a genre-splicing pop project designed for the moment yet giving a glimpse into the singer’s futuristic quest.