Pitchfork (Website) - "[W]hat makes the first proper album from Empress Of so impressive is that it's not just Rodriguez's most outwardly pop-focused work to date, but also her most restlessly experimental..."
Audio Mixer: David Wrench.
Recording information: Electric Lady Studios, Newyork City (06/2014); Mexico City (06/2014); Montreal (06/2014); Newyork City (06/2014); Electric Lady Studios, Newyork City (12/2013-12/2014); Mexico City (12/2013-12/2014); Montreal (12/2013-12/2014); Newyork City (12/2013-12/2014).
Photographer: Jamie-James Medina.
Making her full-length debut after a few singles and EPs, Empress Of (the electro-pop solo moniker of Lorely Rodriguez) sounds remarkably assured and self-confident on her first album Me. Previous releases, such as her 2012 debut 7" single "Champagne"/"Don't Tell Me," featured Elizabeth Fraser-like vocals over hazy, downtempo beats in line with much of the other chillwave being produced around that time. Me continues moving in the direction suggested by Rodriguez's 2014 digital single "Realize You," which was considerably more uptempo and danceable than her early material. The songs on Me are hookier and contain brighter synth textures and more intricate production, and Rodriguez's voice simply sounds far more original than before, without sacrificing her impressive range and vocal acrobatics. A few songs, such as the single "Kitty Kat," seem to dip into the avant-R&B of FKA twigs, but are much more direct and less abstract. The album was primarily recorded on a solo retreat to Mexico, and the lyrics are intensely personal. Rodriguez states "I just need myself to love myself" on "Need Myself," and several songs discuss various aspects of infatuation and obsessive relationships. The dancefloor-friendly tracks seem to have a classy tech-house shuffle rather than an overblown EDM pomposity, giving weight to her lyrics rather than distracting from them. In many ways, Rodriguez seems intent on optimistically moving forward, declaring "our memories are a threat" and generally sounding more free and independent than before. ~ Paul Simpson