As Self Esteem, Rebecca Taylor has shaken off the shackles of her indie band past to become the unapologetic pop star she always wanted to be. With her statement debut Compliments Please she gave voice to the feelings of insecurity and misogyny-induced frustration that many of us face every day, emboldening a whole new audience with powerful, truth-telling lyricism that speaks to her love of rhythmic noughties pop and RnB. As Self Esteem, Taylor proves that we can all grow from what we go through, but that life is far too short not to embrace yourself in your most honest of forms – no apologies necessary.
Holding onto a new sense of clarity, Taylor set about making a second record that didn’t throw her debut-album baby out with the ‘must-do-better’ bathwater. Honest disclosure has always been her forte, and so each track on Prioritise Pleasure handles difficult themes with nuanced perspective, comforted and counter-balanced with an array of rhythmic flourishes that speak to the eclectism of her experience and influence.
The funk-pop shimmy of ‘Moody’ feels anthemic in its analysis of self-sabotaging habits (‘Sexting you at the mental health talk seems counterproductive’), while opener ‘I’m Fine’ builds a stomp-and-clap wall of solidarity, staking out defiant new ground. Making use of Taylor’s penchant for voice notes, the striking outro draws on snippets of conversation taken from work she did in 2019 with The National Youth Theatre, devising a short play with a group of young female-identifying creatives on the topic of consent.
Photo Copyright © Stephen Farrell