Natural Brown Prom Queen

Sudan Archives

Natural Brown Prom Queen

Brittney Parks’ Athena was one of the more interesting albums of 2019. Natural Brown Prom Queen is better. Not only does Parks—aka the LA-based singer, songwriter, and violinist Sudan Archives—sound more idiosyncratic, but she’s able to wield her idiosyncrasies with more power and purpose. It’s catchy but not exactly pop (“Home Maker”), embodied but not exactly R&B (“Ciara”), weird without ever being confrontational (“It’s Already Done”), and it rides the line between live sound and electronic manipulation like it didn’t exist. She wants to practice self-care (“Selfish Soul”), but she also just wants to “have my titties out” (“NBPQ [Topless]”), and over the course of 55 minutes, she makes you wonder if those aren’t at least sometimes the same thing. And the album’s sheer variety isn’t so much an expression of what Parks wants to try as the multitudes she already contains.

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