Dena - Flash (Normal Surround Records/!K7)
|Dena - Flash|
Release Date: 11th March 2014
So, it's finally here. The debut long player from German chanteuse Dena. A woman who lists Sun Ra and Destiny's Child as two of her biggest influences and boy do those influences show on the disjointed but booty shakeable charms of opening track 'Thin Rope' and it's follower 'Jet Lag'. The gangsta title of 'Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools' is coupled with a circular vocal featuring the same words and then layers of beats, bleeps and more of Dena's vocals. There's a minimalist pop feel to this album which is part Hip-Hop and part Euro avant garde and that's a tantalising combination. However, on 'Total Ignore' Dena goes for a pure pop-rap approach like some kind of weird Neneh Cherry vs Nena mash up with 21st Century production. There are times when the lyrics are a little cringe inducing but I'm putting that down to either linguistic barriers or heavy irony.
There is a late night, ballad feel to 'Bad Timing' which is perfect for cruising while 'You Wish' is a beautiful Euro-rap tribute or response to Snow's classic one hit wonder 'I Wish' - genius stuff. Dena goes full sexy R'n'B on our collective asses on 'Dice' but the tune is still so minimal that her vocals are given plenty of space to be heard which is part of the charm. Recent single 'Flashed (feat Erlend Oye)' is a bit of a break from the rest of the album with the smooth acoustic guitar and subdued percussion but you can see why they chose to release this as a single as it certainly springs out at you. For the final two tracks, Dena gives us the upbeat and TLC-esque 'Games' and 'Front Row Girl', a tune as mellow as it fierce despite the downplayed melody and restrained vocal performance. The best thing about Dena, however, is that I really don't know where she fits and I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what she'd be like live. She'll be in the UK in April, can somebody go to a show and let me know please? Thanks awfully.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/denafromtheblock?fref=ts
19th March - La Peniche, Lille
6th April - Zwolfzehn, Stuttgart
8th April - Zoom, Frankfurt
9th April - Kong, Munich
12th April - Altes Wettburo, Dresden
15th April - Birthdays, London
16th April - Soup Kitchen, Manchester