“It’s been a long, it’s been a long year,” Audrey Nuna sighs on the closing track of her new project ‘A Liquid Breakfast’. There’s a weariness to her voice that most people will be able to relate to and an intimacy that captures the whole M.O. of the record. Written while driving around the suburbs of New Jersey where Nuna was born and raised, it acts as a diary of the rising star’s last 18 months, giving us a glimpse at her innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences.
On the brooding ‘Baby Blues’, the 22-year-old drops hushed raps of student life over a whirring, shuffling foundation. “It was autumn/ We were in college,” she sets the scene. “Dropping credits while you were bombing sakes.” The hazy ‘Blossom’ details growing up, using plastic charms that are used to decorate shoes as a very specific example of getting older. “Jibbitz out the Crocs cos get it? I’m mature now,” she teases.
Meanwhile, the stuttering, staccato ‘Typical’ puts Nuna’s existence as a Korean-American musician in the worlds of leftfield R&B and hip-hop front and centre. “Never seen a face like mine in the cockpit,” she notes with the kind of confidence that makes you believe in her power to kick the door down.
While Nuna might not identify as a rapper, as she told NME earlier this year, ‘A Liquid Breakfast’ shows she has the skills and flow to adopt that label should she wish. On the Jack Harlow-assisted ‘Comic Sans’, she drops verses that are playful and rapid-fire. “Tie the band on me/And the polygraph goes haywire,” she raps at one point, leading into bars that weave from taking a lie detector test to dismissing Whole Foods for US fried chicken chain Popeye’s.
As well as the deep dive into Nuna’s brain, the 10-track project is characterised by its creative diversity: no two songs sound the same, ranging from ultra-cool anthems (‘Comic Sans’, ‘Damn Right’) to mellower, softer songs that showcase their creator’s beautiful singing voice (‘Space’, ‘Long Year’). On ‘Cool Kids’, she lingers on the final syllable of each line in the chorus, drawing out words like “us” and “dust” like a hissing snake, while ‘Get Luv’ puts her voice through processors to transform it into something more digitised and sleek.
Pushing creative boundaries is an important part of Audrey Nuna’s artistry and ‘A Liquid Breakfast’ puts her under the spotlight as someone with both fresh ideas and the talent to make them glow. “Everybody knows my name, what you want?” she spits at one point on ‘Damn Right’, a satire about people’s love of talking shit. It might be sarcasm on the track but, in reality, it’s a statement that seems destined to come true.
- Release date: May 21
- Record label: Arista Records