With chants of dedication to a deity of the Yoruba religion in their native tongue, Ibeyi’s opening track on their debut album ‘Eleggua (Intro)’ lulls and lures the listener in with beautiful harmonic tones. Through eerie organs and sampling oddly reminiscent of Parisian rap, the listener meanders through choral swells and the odd sappy lyric about love. The album is a beautiful rhapsody.
However, the album’s spell is not without lulls. ‘Think of You’ is perhaps an example of their less successful experimentation. 20 seconds in and already two tonal changes under their belt, Ibeyi introduce a third, orchestral segment. Such a change is a decadence which just isn’t needed or particularly effective. And, when you think it can veer no more, the song pops in an unmixed sample of vague soul, before returning to its majority combination of electro beats and plangent singing.
‘Behind the Curtain’, on the other hand, is uncomplicated, earnest, and moving. Choral echoes and a hair-rising surprise of tam-tam beats work together in a waltz which creates compelling intimacy. Building in strength, ‘Stranger/Lover’ shows the twins come into their own at the core of their album. It’s got an oddly poppy push to it: think a tale of lost love that is more shining and more cultured than any of Taylor Swift’s many shrieks.
The twins must have known they’d uncovered something special with ‘Mama Says’. The vocals are exquisitely pure. The harmonising vibrates the heart-strings: it is simplistic, but has a shimmering beauty in its heartfelt tones. Although the muffled tri-tone isn’t an innovative beat choice, it serves as a perfect backbone and perfect timing.
The album seems to dare to bare as it nears its end. ‘Faithful’ has a lingering a cappella start, and Ibeyi have definitely simplified their production. It’s a move which cleans out the slightly confused heaping of the earlier songs, and proves their skill at sonorous pairing. ‘Singles’ displays a fine-tuned sense of symmetry. Ibeyi’s penultimate song matches its jazzy piano line to vocal notes and the insistent, driving beats (faded just enough so as not to be intrusive). The eponymous album finishes upon an eponymous song. ‘Ibeyi’ is entirely un-backed acapella, until the twins are ever so softly supported by hand-beaten, barely audible drums. You can hear their celebratory delighted laughter and clapping as the songs fade. Their album is complete and the listener is left hungering for more. Ibeyi’s soaring, at times searing vocals are a force to be reckoned with. Their album shows profound talent and vision, a talent I hope will gain ampleness without losing its entrancing power..