By Tommy Rodriguez
Kali Uchis is a lot like the rest of us right now.
The Colombian pop and R&B star is currently cooped up at home, sorting through her emotions and reorganizing her life as the world burns around her. What distinguishes Uchis from the rest of us, however, is the fact that she’s casually dropping EPs about it.
TO FEEL ALIVE is the latest EP from Uchis. A four-track collection of bedroom demos that runs for about 10 minutes, the EP is a brisk peek into Uchis’ mind that manages to use its lo-fi aesthetics to make for a satisfying experience.
TO FEEL ALIVE is different from Uchis’ previous albums right out of the gate with the alluring and atmospheric track, “honey baby.” The song is not as immediate as the Colombian diva’s previous works, but it still remains interesting with its unconventional songwriting and airy instrumental. While it seems a bit lacking in structure at places, the song represents what the EP is at its heart: a sensual and quirky stream of consciousness coming from a passionate lover.
“angel” carries the romantic vibes of the EP to new heights, with Uchis floating on her lyrical angel wings towards heavenly pleasure. Its instrumental is the most well-groomed of the record, utilizing psychedelic synths, trap drums, and heavy reverb to create an ethereal experience. Uchis is excellent at making love seem like an intoxicating experience through tracks such as this, and despite its short runtime, it still feels complete as a peek into her desires. The promiscuous cover art of the EP (censored for streaming services) captures this lustful mood perfectly. For each note that Kali sings, she ascends to a higher state of bliss while descending into a realm of physical love.
“i want war” amazingly discusses this fight between chaotic love and peaceful stability in its lyrics, but the EP is perhaps at its most flawed here. While the instrumental is pretty, it doesn’t draw listeners into the track, to its wonderful lyrics, as well as others on the EP. With a bit more grooming, this track had the potential to be one of Uchis’ best. As of now, it’s simply good.
“TO FEEL ALIVE,” the EP’s closer, feels like a satisfying (albeit short) ending to a blissful summer affair. Uchis’ Winehouse-esque vocals shine above the folksy strings of the track, and her discussion on how to rise over complicated relationships to “feel something” is touching. Yeah, it may be short, a bit unpolished in terms of its structure, and a bit quiet, but again, it accomplishes what it sets out to do: Depict Uchis’ stream of thought as she stares at the sky, wondering when COVID-19 will pass like the numerous partners she’s had in the past.
TO FEEL ALIVE, as short and messy as it may be, is still a great listen. With solid instrumentals and performances, this EP has kept her core fanbase satisfied while Uchis prepares her next magnum opus. It may be over as quickly as a summer fling, but it was still worth experiencing and learning from. Uchis cannot be stopped right now, nor will she be anytime soon.
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