Erika de Casier Sensational 4AD
As one of only two Black kids in her school, Erika de Casier grew up looking to MTV for representation, falling hard for artists like Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah and Usher in the process. It was this world that the Copenhagen-based producer and singer evoked with her acclaimed debut Essentials. A self-released set of startlingly soft-focus R&B pop, the album paid tribute to the slinky productions of Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, G-funk and her club roots in Aarhus house-collective Regelbau, and was simultaneously fondly deferential and forward-thinking.
Two years on, the same almost-tactile intimacy characterises this second set, but the potency of de Casier’s delicate vocals and semi-whispered asides are accentuated by slicker production and more adventurous arrangements. It’s an enjoyably eclectic mix of influences, blending two-step (Busy), symphonic interludes (Acceptance (Intermezzo)) and ethereal pop underpinned by bubbling amen breaks (Call Me Any Time), as well as Brandy-inspired R&B, complete with synthesised harp arpeggios (Someone to Chill With).
This idiosyncratic perspective carries over into de Casier’s lyrics too. Though ostensibly focused on dating and relationships, Sensational is actually a celebration of self-love, peppered with endearingly geeky details including her morning routine (“Up at 6/ Take my vitamins/ Then I meditate”) and the admission that she likes to keep her room “really tidy”. And she’s right to feel quietly confident: on the strength of this second collection, she’s a real one-off.