Review – Yuna x ‘Rouge’

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“Baby, now my vision’s clear, things will never be the same…you were just a phase, my dear, you were just growing pain…”, shrugs Yuna on Rouge. It’s the first of many calm affirmations on the singer’s newest work, which is evident of nothing but a 30-something woman’s blooming wisdom from love and letdown.

If not with the release of her breezy, Nocturnal hit “Falling“, most of us first heard the dulcet-toned, Malaysian singer-songwriter on “Crush”, the 2016, playing-it-coy duet with Usher. The semi-indie songstress, Mat Zara’ai by full name, now drops a fourth addition to her discography. Known to dabble in EDM cuts with artist like Emmit Fenn and melt with the ‘lovey-chill’ R&B vocal likes of Jhene Aiko and Masego, all the while still being able to croon a pretty nice Drake cover, Yuna truly fits any scene.

The unbothered Rouge paints a wiser, especially placid Yuna, one who’s ok—almost cozily so, with things and people that naturally dissolve. Arriving three years after the release of the more jaded Chapters, and a year after her own marriage to filmmaker Adam Sinclair (stunning wedding pics here), the singer-songwriter’s new EP is a calming, melodious cruise through self-validation and love, sans unhealthy attachment.

Housing uptempo indie-pop cuts with a tasteful drop-ins from the mainstream, the first guest appearance is from Tyler, The Creator, an unlikely smooth addition to Yuna’s intro track “Castaway”: a cool dismissal over beachy-chill vibes. The Odd Future founder raps over the singer’s unbothered bridge, which prizes grounded, ‘okay’-ness over an unfulfilling mess: [“Honestly…it wasn’t so hard to see, that you’re not the one for me/Yeah, I’d rather be so far away, a castaway…”].

Synthy, disco-tinged production powers tracks like “Blank Marquee (featuring G-Eazy)” and “Pink Youth”, a bubblegum dance-pop track electrified with self-certainty, a verse from UK’s multi-talented Little Simz, and lipstick-armed power: [“We come up to fight/ like diamonds shining in the sky, girls like you and I.”].

And then of course there’s a rawer Yuna, occasionally getting vulnerable on drearier tracks like “Forget About You”, which delves into the inevitable withdrawal symptoms of an expired situationship: [“I still hear your voice, see your ghost in my house/Speaking softly, slowly”], but quickly reverts to icy realism; [“I don’t wanna cry for you, cause you don’t deserve my tears.”]

Don’t get it twisted, Yuna’s sweetened nonchalance of letdown and blow-offs makes her none the softer; Rouge still contains the jagged stuff of heartbreak, but that which she lays bare in the most serene and self-loving form.

Download via Spotify below.

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