A vital and iconic voice over the past few decades, Neneh Cherry’s distinct political and personal poeticism is as potent as ever on Broken Politics. Her fifth solo record, and first release in some six years, the Swedish artist offers up a rich sonic tapestry of sounds and experimentations as she delivers wistful and insightful contemplations on the current socio-political turbulence we find ourselves amongst.
Opening with the graceful, rustling rhythms and glistening harp melodies of ‘Fallen Leaves’ Cherry’s astute lyrical statements are immediate and frank.
‘Synchronised Devotion’ is a beautiful, crystalline meditation, with murmuring glockenspiel and delicate piano chords accompanying Cherry’s rich, dusky tones as she delivers diary-like enunciations and truths, a manifesto of sorts. Elsewhere, ‘Natural Skin Deep’ is a thunderous onslaught of urgent beats, oscillating electronica, a cacophony of sirens, steel drums, and horns that breaks down into slow-jazz grooves before launching back into the previous trance-like rhythms.
On ‘Black Monday’ she raps over ticking, twinkling melodies, whilst ‘Soldier’ offers glistening arrangements and crisp, crunching beats. It’s this ability to encompass such a rich wealth of influences and sounds that makes Cherry such a perpetually fresh and radical artist: taking varying sonic worlds, comprising roots in post-punk to dub to R&B and more, and fusing them in Cherry’s unmistakable musical essence. And on Broken Politics there’s a certain musical maturity and confidence that emanates throughout.
The lyrical narratives she weaves throughout are conscious and poignant; ‘Shot Gun Shack’ addresses the issue of gun violence in contemporary society over sparse trip-hop beats and shrill, echoing chimes. On ‘Kong’, Cherry emphatically sings about the refugee crisis and far-reaching impacts of colonialism over pared-down dub basslines and ethereal, haunting instrumental layers.
Ever unswerving and ardent, Broken Politics comprises an important collection of deeply human and earnest musings on and questioning of the times. With production courtesy of Four Tet, this is a record that bursts with soul and Cherry’s vibrant, powerful personality. Spellbinding and affecting with lingering impact, Broken Politics once again proves Neneh Cherry as an incredibly dynamic and empowering artist whose voice feels needed now more than ever.