When we last heard from the west London rapper, singer and artist Lava La Rue, they were loved-up and content. Their second EP ‘Butter-Fly’ traced infatuation, the yearnings of long-distance relationships, self-love and vulnerability, all set to gorgeously groggy psych-rap. Nearly 18 months on Lava (real name Ava Laurel) is still at ease, with the ‘Hi-Fidelity’ EP consisting of five mellow and potent songs.
Lava has brought in funkier riffs for this follow-up that scream of summer, nodding to the West Coast vibes imbibed while making the record in LA. Love still hangs thick in the air – be it an old flame resurfacing (‘Don’t Come Back’) or a partner so perfect that you feel compelled to write a song about them (‘Hi-Fidelity’) – as Lava prepares to enter a new creative chapter. “I want to drop one last project that acts as the bridge between the Lava that debuted, the one everyone knows, and the person I’m becoming,” they recently clarified about the purpose of this EP.
So it makes sense that ‘Hi-Fidelity’ bears many of the hallmarks of its 2021 predecessor. This is the curtain call for the Lava La Rue we’ve come to know, growing from the impressionist sketches of their 2017 mixtape ‘Lavaland Part 1’ to the broad-brimmed, dancehall-influenced ‘STITCHES’ of 2019. Like ‘Butter-Fly’, ‘Hi-Fidelity’ is the giddy sound of where Lava is now: happy, in love and even more sure of themself.
The title track, which features the Irish artist Biig Piig, is a standout: strutting bass and hissing ‘90s synths power a hopelessly romantic love song that’s begging to be blasted out of a car stereo. Biig Piig’s verse might feature what sounds like a clichéd Coldplay lyric (“I’ll make the clouds move / I’ll clear them all for you”), but the song is as intoxicating as love itself.
If ‘Hi-Fidelity’ celebrates love, then ‘Don’t Come Back’ warns of its dangers. “I don’t think I’m having any fun no more,” Lava recalls of a relationship gone sour. The dubious “I don’t think” infers love’s blinding nature, where one can second-guess their feelings. Noir guitars jostle with one of the best funk basslines of the year, before they join forces to noodle around Lava’s worries.
There’s assertiveness elsewhere, as opener ‘Don’t Trip’ hears Lava flex their confidence and old-school rap muscles over slick, palm-muted funk riffs. “Remind your clique what’s important and put them values in the booth / ‘Cause life’s too short to be lying, to tell yourself another excuse,” they rap as dreamy R&B vocal ad-libs weave in and out.
Such a pep talk makes you feel like you can conquer the world, and Lava La Rue is habitually good at stirring up such emotion. With this chapter of their career now closed, we can’t wait to see the next stage of their creative evolution.
- Release date: July 29
- Record label: Marathon Artists