Monday, June 4th, 2018

Bali Baby – Backseat

Five minutes prior to publication, your editor realised Bali Baby’s name is not a reference to the Indonesian province, and is pronounced quite differently …


Iain Mew: Pinball Kesha rock-rap! One of those ideas so confidently well-executed it leaves the question of how it possibly took so long to be done.

Alfred Soto: This Atlanta rapper’s gonna get the party started like P!nk, and I hope it and her debut catch on, even if she’s more enthusiastic than awesome at the moment.

Katherine St Asaph: Like the result of a songwriting challenge where your four influences were Katy Rose’s Candy Eyed, Sol Seppy’s Herbie: Fully Loaded swerve “Nice Car,” Kesha demos, and Farrah Abraham — only one of which could plausibly be an actual influence, and all of which combine for not-exactly-easy listening. But it’s definitely not boring listening, and it is a highly specific and untapped vein of nostalgia.

Vikram Joseph: The opening seconds of “Backseat” are bracing and disorientating, a catapult into the centre of a storm of squally synths and Bali Baby’s unmannered, aggressively mechanised vocals. The shock wears off as the song becomes grounded by serrated, overdriven guitar chords, but “Backseat” has no interest in giving you a breather, playing out entirely in fourth and fifth gear. It’s abrasive, intense and melodic, influenced by both trap and punk, spawning a sort of violent pop hybrid — the hedonistic bastard child of Sleigh Bells and Charli XCX that we had no idea how badly we needed. Like Charli, Bali Baby’s vocals are full of bluster but also hugely endearing; when she yells “Where do the staaaaaaars go when the morning comes?” she’s all of us, in those dazed and wasted moments at the end of a night, flat on your back gazing up at a wakening sky and made dizzy by a sudden awareness of the sheer scale of everything. It’s wildly fun, it’s emotional, it’s loud as fuck — let’s be honest, what more do you want from your summer bangers?

Jonathan Bradley: Bali Baby takes the melting discordance of circa-2010 Kesha and stamps away any trace of Dr. Luke’s bubblegum thump. “Backseat,” in its disaffected trashiness, also brings to mind the delightful transience of Kreayshawn’s fifteen-minute career; the fluoro-pink artwork and celeb-baiting title of album Baylor Swift add to the flimsiness. The lyric doesn’t; it’s more contemplative and more fraught than the surrounding noise allows. Bali Baby doesn’t do a lot with that pathos, but it’s there, tugging on the bold sass and patched electronics.

Edward Okulicz: Bali Baby almost throws a pity party with the introspective verses, but then interrupts it for an actual party in the chorus. Her vowels say she might already be a little bit tipsy, in a good way.

Jonathan Bogart: A churning lo-fi beat that resembles the glitchy sparkle of leaked 128kpbs mp3s from the glory days of internet piracy is an odd but surprisingly effective choice to back up a song that is half brag, half reverie: the lonely comfort of being a child in the backseat at night, the crowded anticipatory glee of climbing into the backseat of a friend’s ride in young adulthood, and even, oddly, the disorienting awkwardness of riding in a backseat in middle age after years of solo driving, are all evoked here, while Bali Baby’s voice, all sneers, whines and squeals, keeps the song’s momentum hurtling forward.

Micha Cavaseno: Atlanta’s Bali Baby is by far one of the more beguiling prospects in rap, especially in female rappers, in the last couple of years. Her music can swerve off in directions from cheeky punchline rap to wistful moody pop, but this growing talent is often offset by a tendency for instigating beefs with friends or rivals on a whim. Ironically, her most recent mixtape, Baylor Swift, demonstrates this obnoxious case of Gemini duality in singles, with the contrast of the jabbing industrial nag behind “WWW” and the grating, steel-pyrite, drifty-mall punk of “Backseat.” Were she not going to be betrayed by her discography, one would easily think this is a missing ’00s demo for a Fefe Dobson-type forgotten act, which furthers the irony of the imposed return to pop-punk/emo placed on rap when actually fulfilled. “Backseat” works in how producer Chicken gives Bali a record that is both corrosive in it’s construction and its solvency as a listen. And I’ll say this: it’s better than anything on Rebirth

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2 Responses to “Bali Baby – Backseat”

  1. I forget whether this was edited or I forgot it but I meant to say Ke$ha demos, as in, demos specifically from when she was recording as Ke$ha

  2. the farrah abraham reference extended my life by a few years