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Let’s get this out of the way – Sleepy Hungry, the second EP by 19-year old Bonzai, is one of the most innovative and remarkable albums I have heard since FKA Twigs’ LP1. It is unlike anything you’ll hear this year, as the young resident from Dublin has created an album that combines multiple genres in a quick 25 minutes. Some might call it experimental, but a more apt description is that Sleepy Hungry is revolutionary.
It’s not purely an electronic album even though the entire album is founded on stuttering beats, drum machines, and synthesizers. R&B, hip hop, trance, acid house, funk, trip-hop, and noise pop are masterfully merged into the electronic soundscapes but achieved in a fashion that is intended to add another layer of edginess to Bonzai’s side. Sleepy Hungry, as such, isn’t an album that is intended to be lush or dazzling nor made for dance clubs. It is an edgy, gritty record that reaches pulverizing levels, such as on the emphatic “Kassi”, the trippy opener, “Daniel Gets It Wrong”, and the bone-jarring “Stepping”.
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Even in the moments where Bonzai seems to be taking on a more subdued and even sultry side, such as on “Faze”, “No Rest”, “Sick’em”, and the mesmerizing closer “Where Are U Now”, there’s a strong confidence that exudes in the former Dubliner’s voice. This shouldn’t be all that surprising because the messages that Bonzai shares are of perseverance and autonomy and finding strength within oneself. It’s also one big middle finger at those who have done harm to others or betrayed someone’s trust.
The whole combination of sound, textures, and lyrical prowess make Sleepy Hungry a remarkable experience. It’s an album that is crushing in the intensity of the music and Bonzai’s voice and how each note and word are delivered. Everything penetrates deep into one’s soul, which could leave the listener overwhelmed, astounded, or left in awe at the achievement this young artist has created. In all honesty, no words could do Sleepy Hungry any justice. It’s an EP that has to be heard to truly understand what Bonzai has invented. Move over FKA Twigs and Grimes, there’s a new woman transforming how we perceive music.
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