It’s common to get excited when you hear that an artist has been signed to in-demand record labels such as Dirty Hit and Speedy Wunderground, and Australian-Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Vanilla Jenner, known as Viji, has experienced both in the lead-up to the release of her debut album, So Vanilla. An album that has been completed for almost a year, So Vanilla begins to cement Viji’s status as one of the most exciting artists currently blending 90’s inspired shoegaze and bedroom pop.
Opener, ‘Anything’, indulges on the lust that is felt when you know that you are someone’s fantasy, with a forceful chorus. Previous single, ‘Down’, then begins with a soft introduction that builds up to an intense and cathartic climax. Here, Viji’s creative potential shines through, delivering a powerful performance and evoking emotions that are both raw and authentic. The line ‘misery makes me holy’ echoes throughout the track, leaving a lasting impression on the listener, where the grunge-inspired tones of Sonic Youth can also be heard, adding an edge to Viji’s sound.
‘Sedative’ sees Viji explore the complexities of attraction and rejection through reflective vocals. Here, the lyrics convey a sense of inner turmoil, as she grapples with her emotions towards someone, struggling to express them freely – as if in a self-imposed trap, unable to escape her own thoughts. However, as the song progresses, Viji’s vulnerability gives way to an admission of her true feelings – that ‘London isn’t as cool without you’.
So Vanilla features a unique blend of sound, with ‘Karaoke’ and ‘Sharks’ standing out as they pay their homage to Viji’s ‘emo’ roots. The former is a captivating slice of alt-pop that exudes angst and vocals that draw inspiration from shouty Japanese punk tracks. Despite the stark contrast in sound found on the album, So Vanilla manages to maintain a cohesive flow.
Taking inspiration from a wide range of artists and genres, Viji’s debut album is a hit. The bond between her and producer, Dan Carey, is palpable, and their collaboration truly brings So Vanilla to life and overall, the album is a strong debut that showcases Viji’s talent and sets the bar high for what’s to come.