Bree Runway has spent the year correcting her underdog status. The world has finally caught up to her inventive pop music in 2022 with a BRIT Rising Star nomination, a sold-out US tour, and an NME cover to boot. To cap it all off, the fashion queen of British pop-rap has released a surprise project, ‘Woah, What A Blur!, that offers more of her it-girl personality and ventures into new electronic styles.
The sound of revving engines careening off into opener ‘Archive Mami’ is an invigorating start. Bree gives the low-down on who is on top (“And if you say that I’m a nobody online / Why the hell did Gaultier sent me shit from the archive?”), but the song is cut criminally short. You’re left fiending to hear the full version, but the next track ‘BREEE!’ makes amends with tight melodic rapping threaded through weighty bass kicks.
Bree taps into her confident, opulent self on the hulking Baltimore club track ‘That Girl’. Doused in metallic production flourishes, she lets loose on Ballroom-tinged raps that have a touch of Cakes Da Killa in their slinky wit. “They salty ’cause I bring the pepper / I’ll be the it girl, now and forever”, she spits. “Sickening body, it’s unfair / I can pronounce everything I wear”. Bree’s cocksure performance brings out something of a thematic sum-up for her year: “I already been that girl / If you bad and you know it, better show out, girl”.
The sole questionable moment on the release is ‘Pick Your Poison’, a plucked-guitar Afropop duet with Stormzy. It’s about two people trying to connect despite having different attitudes towards drinking, but you can practically envision the music video of the two leaning on opposite sides of the same wall singing out into the distance. It lacks Bree’s typically inventive spark: while there is room for her to make a slower ballad – as the brilliant, Jai Paul-ish ‘Somebody Like You’ from this year proves – here, she feels caught in a pop formula.
‘FWMM’, however, shows Bree becoming an album artist with a captivating confessional. She expresses a desire for intimacy from her partner over a bedrock of warm interstellar synths, before taking the route of D’Angelo’s ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ and painting the climax of intimacy through a godly rise. ‘Woah, What A Blur!’ is an exploratory collection that goes to multiple stylistic places, but if Bree Runway’s forthcoming debut album fills in the gaps, her stardom will be impossible to downplay.
- Release date: December 9
- Record label: EMI