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Album Review: Ibeyi ‘Ibeyi’

Ibeyi’s self titled debut album will make you yearn for a spring awakening. “Ibeyi” translates to a “Divine Spirit between twins” in Yorubu, a Nigerian language.  It is also the name of  the group formed by French-Cuban twin sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz. The sisters draw inspiration from their late father, Miguel “Angá” Díaz of Buena Vista Social Club.

The duo has managed to make world music accessible to Gen Y by weaving electronic, hip hop, and soul elements into each intimate track. They alternate between singing in Yorubu, French, Spanish, and English, making this album tops on my list of culture clash indie records.

Ibeyi told Nowness that the theme of their album is family and prayer. Because of the somber topics (many surrounding the loss of their father and other ancestors that have passed away) their music has been placed in the elusive genre of “doom soul.” However, I do not feel depressed or down while listening to Ibeyi. Their visceral music is validating, and the light melodies formed by Naomi and Lisa-Kainde on piano and drums are refreshing.

In the video for the fourth track, “River,” the sisters participate in a baptism. Naomi and Lisa  take turns being submerged and singing, “Sink my pains and complaints / Let the river take them, river drown them / My ego and my blame / Let me baptize my soul with the help of your waters.” It’s raw and hauntingly beautiful.

Think of You” is the sickest song off the album. Downtempo beats, sharp piano chords, and the chilling harmonies of this song encapsulate the album in one track. “We hear laughter and we think of you / We walk on rhythm and we think of you / Feeling our union and we think of you / Receive your spirit and we think of you.” See for yourself.

Ibeyi is out now via XL Records and they will be at the Williamsburg Hall of Music March 25.

Review by Danielle O’Neill. Follow her on Twitter @doneill13.

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