URU / Lucky Number – 18th August

Samantha Urbani’s debut EP is laced with gross 1980s excess. Unfortunately in this case, that’s not a good thing. The former Friends lead singer may deliver the bombast which she had to reign in during her band days, but she fails in the areas where the band had once triumphed. Urbani has all the promise of an excellent mid-tier popstar and she will no doubt succeed as a solo musician, but her debut here is, quite frankly, a dud. It seems to be a ‘bangers machine’, to the point where it maxes itself out within the first few moments.

The opening track ‘Hints & Implications’ is a continuous soar, with a momentum that is only propelled by an overcrowding and cluttering mix of gauzy guitar, plicky synth and Sade-adjacent keys. The only thing to ground the confused hodgepodge of textures is the timpani-sounding drum machine, which I resent more and more each time I hear it. This is a banger that is in no way pleasurable, but almost assaulting. Thankfully, this is a case of first the worst, but the remaining four tracks aren’t exactly a saving grace.

There are some nicer moments in ‘1 2 3 4’. Urbani’s head voice during the chorus is really gorgeous and provides a genuine soar, but the bass that follows is about as sexy as Monica Bing treating Chandler to a lap dance on pre-watershed TV. ‘U Know I Know’, though it has a prominent start, becomes a Frankenstein’s monster of postmillenial pop motifs – there’s some tropical pop that sneaks itself in, and even some hints of dancehall. For what reason? I’ve no idea. In a press release, Urbani says this is a record on the theme of “power dynamics” – specifically the constant entangling and muddling of an interpersonal relationship. However, there’s nothing to signify this, and the music itself seems totally extraneous and incoherent with the lyrical content. There’s no relationship between the two – and no, I don’t believe that to be a comment on the nature of relationships and powerplay itself.

‘Going Deeper’ begins with what sounds like raindrops falling down a drain. It’s nice enough, but when it’s added as an extra layer in the chorus it jars and disrupts the otherwise quite pleasant and spacious tonality of the song. The record’s stodgiest lyrics are on this track too. The attempt at internal rhyming is a bad move, as the weight of the lyrics become overpacked. The chorus of “how much silence can violence create?” comes just after the sixth-formy “was it poetry when you told me you’d be right back?”

However, before we’re back into off-brand Carly Rae Jepsen territory in ‘Go Deeper’, the closing nighttime driving through neon synth, adds some much-appreciated sparseness. The EP might have its shortcomings, but there are certain hints and moments that point to something more refined and less sugary in the future.

Buy: Samantha Urbani – Policies of Power