Ashnikko – ‘Demidevil’ review: bubblegum pop-punk star loves a bit of blue

A debut album proper in all but name, mixtape ‘Demidevil’ shows that Ashnikko’s far more than a two-trend wonder

The road leading to ‘Demidevil’ has been somewhat bumpy. Originally slated for release last October ‘shipping delays’ held up proceedings first of all; then the mixtape was delayed again a second time. In a subsequent note to fans Ashnikko wrote that she was pushing things back to February 2021 so that she could put as much energy as possible into promoting it; you also can’t help but wonder if the repeated rejigs were intended to give her breakthrough single ‘Daisy’ some more breathing room for standalone success. Like earlier track ‘Stupid’ (both rose to prominence on TikTok) the song was crossing over from viral sensation to mainstream pop at the time, and gaining some major radio traction in the process – it ended up enjoying modest, but not runaway, chart success.

Now, with a month to go, the mixtape has been brought forward again after a distribution mix-up meant that physical copies were posted out to fans ahead of schedule. Thankfully, all this back and forth is well worth the wait.

Despite the fact that ‘Demidevil’s peculiar roll-out feels akin to a frenzied rendition of the hokey-cokey, Ashnikko’s first real body of work builds on the early hype, and draws from a far wider pot of musical influences than before. Nu-metal, pop-punk, The Neptunes-esque production tricks and campy musical theatre all get a look-in on a release that also prominently samples Kelis’ ‘Caught Out There’ and features Princess Nokia and Grimes as guest stars.

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Elsewhere, there’s reworking of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Skr Boi’ – faithful to the original’s melody, at least. In Ashnikko’s version, the leading man may as well be taken straight from the much-lauded @beam_me_up_softboi Instagram account – ”he didn’t try to make her cum,” Ash sings sweetly, “on top of that he was a little dumb”. It all feels quite silly and throwback – think Lady Sovereign rapping The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’ into oblivion ten years back – but it’s also unpretentious and great fun. The same can be said of closing track ‘Clitoris! The Musical’ – a cartoonish, piano-pounding stage number dedicated to the sexual misadventures of cisgender heterosexual men. “You’ve been rubbing the same spot on my leg for ten minutes,” she sighs theatrically with added jazz-hands, “you haven’t hit it.”

This same humour prevails, even when Ashnikko sticks nearer to the rib-quaking brand of trap-infused pop she’s best known for – saccharine delivery and cold, thumping beats often join forces with electric results. Joining forces with New York’s Princess Nokia on ‘Slumber Party’ Ashnikko pokes fun at tropey lesbian fantasies and goes several steps further –“me and your girlfriend playing dress-up in my house,” she sings with a butter-wouldn’t-melt smile, “I gave your girlfriend cunnilingus on my couch.” The belted-out ballads – the Grimes-featuring ‘Cry’ and the bittersweet ‘Good While It Lasted’ – also show she’s capable of turning down the menace-o-meter a few notches.

A debut album proper in all but name, in fact, ‘Demidevil’ shows that Ashnikko’s far more than a two-trend wonder – with a tank full of intriguing bangers that evade living under ‘Daisy’s formidable shadow.

Details

  • Release date: January 15
  • Release label: Parlophone/Warner Records
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