Album Review: Prioritise Pleasure

One of our music writer's reviews Self Esteem's new album Prioritise Pleasure

Wednesday Croft
22nd November 2021

Self Esteem (Rebecca Lucy Taylor)'s show-stopping new album Prioritise Pleasure is a powerful and joyful call to do exactly that: cast off your insecurities, put your best foot forward and live life your way.

Its big sister and Self Esteem's debut album Compliments Please boldly went where RLT had not before, creating a beautiful and full bodied musical experience with goosebump-inducing lyrics to match, setting a very high bar for future releases. Prioritise Pleasure does not disappoint, offering a collection of poignant and simultaneously fun songs. 

The opening track 'I'm Fine', with chorus declaring RLT's need to be "completely free", rich harmonies and almighty drumbeat sets the tone for the album. The song ends with a recording of advice on what to do if you're approached by threatening men: "bark like dogs", since nothing puts them off more than a deranged woman. Although it should be shocking, this pragmatic and primal response to predatory behaviour tells you all you need to know about the album.

One of three singles from the album, 'I Do This All The Time' is a monologue from RLT (which she recorded once without notes!) to a past self, encouraging her to be kinder to herself, in spite of the torrent of cruel and misogynistic comments she faces: "keep still / be quiet / you're a good, sturdy girl" to name a few. Self Esteem provides a welcome tonic to this rhetoric in her fierce chorus: "Look up, lean back, be strong”. This encouraging sentiment is echoed across other tracks like 'The 345', the opening lyric to which is "I just wanna let you know there's a point in you, and I know you find it harder than your peers do".

The sometimes eerie but always brilliant backing singers give the impression of what RLT embodies - those drunk girl chats in club toilets with complete strangers who make you feel like you deserve the world and more.

'How Can I Help You?' brings a new level to the album, with Self Esteem almost spitting lyrics like "I don't know shit" over a driving drum beat and little else. This song is a cathartic f**k you to anyone who ever belittled her and a deliciously sarcastic indictment of those who behave like God's Gift to women.

One of the most compelling aspects of the album is the admission of humanity - that with even the strongest will in the world there are mistakes to be made and lessons learnt. On 'Moody', Self Esteem makes light of her irrational behaviour: "Sexting you at the mental health seems counterproductive", making you feel at once like you've in on the joke and reminding you that healing is a process.

RLT's vocal prowess and musicality is an unwavering constancy on the album. If you listened to it for that alone it would triumph. In fact, Self Esteem's meticulous composition from the heart makes Prioritise Pleasure a multi-sensory experience, you have to listen again as soon as the final song ends because there's more to hear.

This album will feel like home for anyone who has ever felt other, and is an invitation to be part of what will inevitably RLT's long and distinguished musical career as Self Esteem.

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