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Erika de Casier Still 4AD


Erika de Casier, the solo artist, arrived fully formed when she released her 2019 debut album, Essentials. Assertive and intentional, yet warm and alluring, the project combined the singer and producer’s futuristic twist on 90s R&B along with the cloistered appeal of bedroom pop. Then there was her voice: featherlight, meandering but confident, and always captivating, making every line feel like it had been prised from the most vulnerable depths of her soul.

De Casier didn’t actually appear out of nowhere, though. The Copenhagen-based artist was previously one half of experimental R&B duo Saint Cava, alongside fellow Danish musician Andreas Vasegaard Nielsen (also known as Hors), and regularly collaborated with DJ Central for dance releases on beloved Aarhus label, Regelbau. But it was Essentials that jolted her into the limelight. The album’s intoxicating, open-hearted soundworld, and its attendant critical success, not only showcased her ability to make universal themes feel intimate, but also introduced a star in the making.

For de Casier, the urge to go down a more conventional pop route never seemed to materialise. With 2021 follow-up Sensational, she refined her nostalgic sound and wrote brighter, poppier melodies without ever tipping into pastiche. Her narrative voice became even more empowered and assured, no longer seeking understanding but instead stating terms (such as on the excellent All You Talk About). Her latest work, Still,  is a continuation of this self-possessed trajectory.

Gloriously melodic lead single, Lucky, makes the case for this approach. With heartfelt piano and lilting verses – an apparent nod to the 2000 Britney classic of the same name – de Casier explores conflicting emotions over lo-fi drum’n’bass production: from separation anxiety (“time with you goes by too fast”) to puppy eyed devotion (“you make it real easy to love you right back, lucky me”) prompted by an all-encompassing new love that feels suspiciously perfect.

This emotional intelligence, buoyed by diving headfirst into the messy pit of love, is one of Still’s biggest strengths. Whether tracing an on-off situationship with Florida hip-hop duo They Hate Change (the enticingly bratty Ice), figuring out a commitment-shy partner (Test It) or revelling in the heart-racing possibilities of a potential hook-up (Ooh), de Casier explores romance’s grey areas with startling clarity – a refreshing counter to the wider culture of lyrical abstraction. Opener Right This Way, with its galloping, 90s hip-hop-indebted beat, finds de Casier unashamedly inviting us in: “Welcome to my party/ How are you doing?” On the aptly named Believe It, she grapples with self-doubt, before ultimately conceding and hoping for the best: “You said you’ve never felt this way/ So I guess I will believe it.”

This musical candour has served her career well. It’s no surprise, then, that K-pop super girl group NewJeans tapped her to co-write for Get Up, their glossy, high-energy 2023 second EP (including the bombastic hit Super Shy) – an experience de Casier has previously described as “freeing”. This liberated energy also courses through Still – particularly on the bass-driven eye-roll, My Day Off, a low-key anthem in celebration of personal boundaries. Against a wonky beat, de Casier reclaims her time from unrelentingly invasive phone notifications (“all in my business like it’s yours, leave me alone”) and asserts her right to rest in the mundanity of everyday life (“I need to do laundry because it doesn’t do itself”).

While some vocalists lavish in acrobatics, with de Casier, less has always been more: any subtle changes in tone or delivery have a much deeper resonance than flashy scales. That doesn’t mean de Casier can’t flex her gifts, though. On The Princess, we’re introduced to her lesser-used lower register; the stylised breathwork of Right This Way instantly entrances;  and the layered harmonies of Home Alone help to create a fuller, more textured atmosphere.

This is also the first time de Casier has featured other artists on one of her albums, though this creative decision works to elevate rather than carry. By tapping They Hate Change, Blood Orange (Twice) and Shygirl (Ex-Girlfriend) – three acts who, like her, have graduated from IYKYK faves to critical darlings – de Casier has made her ambitions clear: she is ready to fill bigger boots. With Still, she may just do so.