Album review: Self Esteem – Compliments Please

John Preston

Self Esteem, AKA Rebecca Taylor, unleashes her debut album. Compliments Please is a wild, bursting carnival of idiosyncratic pop music. The fact that Taylor somehow gets this 16-track opus to hang together as a cohesive whole is an achievement in itself, and although there are moments when a track here and there could have been lost, Compliments Please constantly interests and entertains.

As she proved time and again in Slow Club, Taylor has a presence that can overwhelm a mediocre soundstage and showstop when given material strong enough to withstand her talent. Self Esteem is a different proposition indeed from her previous musical incarnation but there is something soulful and organic that remains.

The sonic choices that Taylor has made for on Compliments Please are not generally those would be considered on-trend or radio-friendly, and this again reinforces her attitude to fitting it.

‘Favourite Problem’, ‘Rollout’ and ‘The Best’ are driven by Taylor’s unruly but technically on-point vocals and are bolstered by the dominant and gospel-inflected backing vocals that persist wonderfully throughout the album. Her grievances are a re-occurring theme which incorporate ex partners, musical and otherwise, and her anger and passion is palpable and rousing. ‘Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m doing fine, patiently seething, hoping that you leave’ is an example, on the empowering and brilliant ‘In Time’.

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Self Esteem’s Compliments Please is a positive indication that creative, labour-of-love alternatives to production line pop is still very much alive and well in 2019.

About John Preston

South London based music obsessive with strong opinions about most things. Doubts Madonna has another good record in her but would love more than anything to be proved wrong.