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Arca “KiCk i” Album Review

“Bitch, I’m special. You can’t tell me otherwise, that’d be a lie” is one of the first zingers we hear on the opening track, “Nonbinary,” on Venezuelan artist and producer Arca’s new LP, KiCk i. Right from the start it’s crystal clear that Arca’s pulling no punches and is about to take the listener on a journey of dissonance, clarity, and self-actualization.

Arca already had three critically acclaimed albums under her belt as well as an impressive lineup of credentials, having produced for artists like Björk, Kanye West, FKA Twigs, and Frank Ocean.

This album is heavy on the electronic and hyperactive pop side, with a touch of reggaeton and dancehall influence. Each track is overloaded with violent synth arpeggios amplified up to a cartoon level. It is very similar to the hyperpop sound that has been pioneered in these past few years by artists like SOPHIE, 100 gecs, and a myriad of other artists under the PC Music umbrella.

The record shows Arca reflecting on the struggle to live as an out trans woman in public spaces (“Mequetrefe”), coming out on the other side and living unapologetically on songs like “Riquiquí” (“Regenerated girl degenerate to generate heat in the light/Love in the face of fear/Fear in the face of God”), finding the strength and safety in finally being able to open up to a lover (“Calor”), and sexual liberation on ethereal ballads like “Afterwards” with Björk reciting a poem by the Spanish modernist poet Antonio Machado, and the sensual club banger “Watch” with Shygirl.

The song “KLK” with Rosalia (short for “?que lo que?”/”keloke,” which translates to “what’s up” in Spanish), is an unabashed celebration of identity, femininity, the magic of being showgirls and celebrating their roots and culture. “Rip the Slit” is a kinky, repetitive, and unabashedly gay anthem (“I’ll hit you with that limp wrist, lipstick/Slit lip, rip slit, tit for tat”) that Arca has described as “a gleeful perversion.” “La Chíqui” with SOPHIE is a clashing of two hyperpop titans producing a bone-crushing track that hits listeners over the head with that trademark SOPHIE production that sounds like the most delightful computer crash.

The final two tracks “Machote” and “No Queda Nada” are more emotionally-driven ballads where Arca gets to show off her vocal chops as she sings about desire, love and gratitude. The closing track (“No Queda Nada”) is an ethereal stadium-ballad that was inspired by Selena Quintanilla, which Arca dedicates to her partner, Carlos Sáez.

As pop evolves and progresses it is clear that Arca is one of the most exciting artists to watch, and KiCk i is only the beginning of her world domination. KiCk i is available for purchase on iTunes and can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music.