Ready to hear the album of the year?
Jessie Atkinson
15:53 18th October 2021

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Ready to hear the album of the year? You only have to wait until Friday. That’s when Prioritise Pleasure, the second long-player by Self Esteem aka Rebecca Taylor, drops. That’s when you get to hear how being a woman sounds. How being excited and disappointed and frightened all at once sounds. How being moody pretty much all the time sounds. Apart from all that, you also get one of the best-sounding records of the year, containing some of the strongest songs 2021 has given us.

As a follow-up to 2019’s Compliments Please, Prioritise Pleasure is less a step up and more a lift ride to the penthouse. Opener ‘I’m Fine’ is explicit in the entire album’s aims at once: everything sounds big. Bass rumbles, registering physically rather than aurally, synthesisers shudder, Rebecca’s voice is sure as a popstar’s voice has ever sounded. As it closes up, a young woman’s voice can be heard: “If we are approached by a group of men, we will bark like dogs,” she says, “There is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman that appears completely deranged”. It’s the first of so many goose pimple-inducing moments across an album that is nuanced about the subject of sexual assault and the complexity of living. “I just stood in the studio and howled” Rebecca told us of the responding barks.

Self Esteem and team had trouble deciding which of these thirteen magnificent songs should be singles: song of the year ‘I Do This All The Time’—close to five-minutes of utter sprechgesang perfection, its rendition on Jools Holland one of the musical highlights of the year—wasn’t even going to be one. ‘Fucking Wizardry’ should have also been a contender, its chorus a swelling, ecstatic choir of femme voices and its beat a synthetic shake that mirrors the ups and downs in Rebecca’s lyrics. ‘Hobbies 2’ could have been one as well. Track four and title track ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ was, its glitching synths so massive as to colour outside the lines of the song completely, magnificently.

‘Moody’ also got the single treatment (thank God), meaning we could enjoy its swinging bass and relatable, chanting lyrics for longer, as well as in the context of a sweet video portraying a realistic relationship between Rebecca and Twitter comedian Alistair Green.

There’s more reliability on ‘Still Reigning’ (“I feel everything, nothing at all”), which runs with the enormity of the album, throwing strings to sky scraping heights and reintroducing the choir of singers for an affecting comfort anthem; it’s followed by ‘How Can I Help You’, a furious side of the same coin and a chance for Rebecca to reclaim her love of drumming.

Even here, Rebecca doesn’t close out. She could, and Prioritise Pleasure would still earn its 10/10. But we still have the house-party-playlist fodder of ‘Its Been A While’, the self-soothing anthem ‘The 345’ (a perfect one to pique some therapeutic tears), the simple-maximalist ballad that is ‘John Elton’, some disco (!) flavours on ‘You Forever’ and the grounding, strings-laden 'Just Kids', which closes out Prioritise Pleasure with much-earned confidence. 

Yes, Prioritise Pleasure may well be the album of the year. It also represents Rebecca Taylor reaching her well-deserved pinnacle, as a modern popstar with the whole package: voice, humour, choreography, honesty, looks and the uncanny ability to pen a banger. Long may she reign. 

Prioritise Pleasure arrives 22 October via Fiction Records.

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Photo: Press