Release Date: Mar 1, 2019
Record label: Fiction
A band name that was coined ten years ago as a satirical quip upon Rebecca Lucy Taylor's insecurities and self doubts has karmically proven itself to be a prophetic statement of intent in her new collection Compliments Please. Compromise and outside expectations of others began to take its toll on the confidence of the ex-Slow Club member, who in being one half of a duo always felt as if she were a "meek" version of her actual self. Shedding the weight of expectation that comes with being part of an acclaimed act (the band released five albums) to partake on a voyage of creative self-discovery has led to Taylor to release the last of the restraints that were holding her back.
There’s a line early on in Compliments Please that could be easily missed, a snatch of dialogue in an introductory 30-second opening track: “When you’re in a band, everybody really doesn’t want the same thing you want, and so you keep on doing the same old thing… other people like doing that but you’re trying to go up… further.” It’s probably the key line of the whole album as it’s how Self Esteem came into being. The brainchild of Rebecca Taylor, formerly part of Sheffield indie duo Slow Club, her solo project is a 180-degree turn from anything she’s produced before. Which is, of course, the whole point of going solo.
If you take one look at Self Esteem's Rebecca Taylor on social media, you'll quickly learn two things: one, she's very, very funny, and two: she's wrestling away with life's insecurities just like the rest of us. No longer reduced to a part of the overall sum that was Slow Club, her first record as Self Esteem allows her songwriting skills to flourish in all their flawed glory - at once assertive and vulnerable, her take on pop flirts with high-end glossy sonics but still holds roots in the slow-building atmospherics that fuelled her past work, as well as some leftfield R&B influences. 'In Time' has plenty in common with a glory-days Kanye record, and then of course there is opener 'The Best' - a fourth-wall breaker that Beyoncé would be proud of, detailing the liberation of going it alone and projecting strength in an industry set against the success of confident women.
P op runs on outsized emotions, but too often they're couched in relatively safe musical settings. The debut album by Self Esteem - AKA Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club - finds her translating some compellingly unflattering lyrics about her actions during a break-up into wild, ambitious pop that's a million miles from her old band's steady descent into Radio 2 pleasantries. She is needy, vengeful, sly and covetous across these 16 songs, sentiments often delivered in falsetto lurches and supported by hefty backing vocals that underpin the sense of Taylor as a formidable presence.