Columbia, SC-based singer/songwriter Ahomari is a prolific artist of some depth and range. Last year’s blue,girl releases tapped into an expansive and brooding indie vibe, but Cyberbae is the project reserved for their dark subversions of familiar pop sounds.
With the latest release, BBGRRL, Ahomari takes pop music to task and undermines the formulas and sounds to which we’re accustomed, but a lot of pop musicians push back against custom and rote expectations. I think what makes this album so special is how very seriously it takes pop music. It’s all there. This album is every pop song you’ve ever heard and none of them. To be sure, this album uses music as much as it makes it. It exploits it, sometimes trashes it. And, loves and respects it, or something like that. But it’s an abiding faith in the genre that keeps it all on track.
BBGRRL is steeped in popular culture, from its name to the knowing nods to 90s films, but it’s rippling with defiance. The music is beautiful and sexy but transgressively so – love songs that gnaw at the edges of tired romantic tropes. But they don’t abandon anything altogether. They roast Taylor Swift. They long for Kovu. There’s anger but it dissolves into heartbreak. There’s bitterness, but that’s probably just exasperation. And, the album ends with the most beautiful, broken-down bluesy cover of Corinne Rae Bailey’s “Like a Star,” where you scrape at the deep sincerity at the bottom of the album – a sincerity that is nearly mirrored in the heartbreaking but playful opener, “it’s not me, it’s you.” But not exactly.
When another writer, Nathaniel Simmons-Thorne, interviewed Ahomari for this magazine last summer in the most psychedelic, evasive yet deeply confessional (for both folks involved) interview that has likely ever happened, Nathaniel wrote, “Ahomari is essentially trolling life, the whole world really, and they’re actually getting ahead while doing it.” My stomach ties itself in knots when I think about letting go of authenticity in music (and life!), but there’s a depth to the shallowness and a sincerity to that subterfuge that is this album – and this artist’s persona – that promises beauty that makes no promises. So, I’ll be here for it.