by Haley Paula Stein
Long before lockdowns started all across the globe, Kali Uchis proved herself as an artist who knows what it means to be alone. Isolation was the title of her debut studio album, released just two years ago. Since then, Kali had been teasing a second record, set to come out later this year. Last Friday, to everyone’s surprise, Uchis went ahead and dropped a four-track EP, TO FEEL ALIVE.
Two songs, opening track “Honey Baby (Spoiled!)” and “Angel,” had been incubating since the Por Vida era (both can be found as earlier mixes on her YouTube channel, the latter under the title “Pablo Escobar”). The opening track rings in sweetly, with 90’s hip hop vibes played into downtempo dance-electronic beats. The lyrics speak to positive romantic experiences, ones that focus on female pleasure. The album art paints a sexy, albeit censored, scene of love acts indoors on a daybed while the carnival Ferris wheel flames just outside the window. Call it a mood.
On “i want war (BUT I NEED PEACE)” the heavy piano on the track placates Kali’s inner conflict with a lover. Throughout the EP her voice shows range; in solitude, Kali Uchis harmonizes with herself for these bedroom songs. The timely title track, “TO FEEL ALIVE,” stands out as a lament on Kali’s deeper insecurities. She sings about failing to measure up and being a misfit while tying into the COVID-19 quarantine age. Painfully, she sings, “I miss my family, things will never be the same. To all the people that have lost I’m screamin’ ‘Rest in Peace!’” with an anguished, indie diva sigh.